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The Cape Fear River 





Edwards & Broughton Printing Co. 

Copyright, 1914, by James Spbunt 

Copyright, 1916, by James Sprunt 








The reception of the Cape Fear Chronicles , not only by 
friends of the author but by the general reader, and in particu- 
lar by historical scholars, has been most unusual. The general 
expression of gratification at its publication and the generous 
recognition of its value are emphatic assurances that Mr. 
Sprunt’s endeavor to preserve the memories of the Cape Fear 
has been appreciated beyond his expectations. Numerous and 
insistent have been the requests for a second edition, to which he 
has finally yielded, and in doing so he has embodied much addi- 
tional matter of interest and importance equal to that contained 
in the first edition. The incorporation of this new matter has 
necessitated some changes in the old, most of which have been 
merely verbal, but in a few instances more important changes 
have been made to secure greater uniformity and conform to 
more recent information concerning certain local traditions and 
memories. No trouble has been spared in either edition to 
secure the greatest exactitude in details, and especially has this 
been true of the edition now presented. 

Mr. Sprunt has long been interested in historical literature, 
and through his liberality many publications of interest and 
value have in recent years been made. The fund he placed at 
the disposal of the University of North Carolina has enabled 
that institution to publish a series of historical monographs of 
peculiar interest, the one published in 1903 being of particular 
importance to Wilmington and the Cape Fear people. And in 
addition to being a liberal promotor of the writings of others, 
his personal output in the field of historical literature has been 
a distinctive and valuable contribution. His research has been 
extensive and remarkably successful ; especially has he been in- 
defatigable in rescuing from oblivion the history of the Cape 
Fear and clothing in his own inimitable style the romantic tales 
and stirring deeds that belong to the development of that section 
of North Carolina. 

In recognition of his service to the State in constructive citi- 
zenship and in his writings and in appreciation of his personal 
excellence and merit, the University of North Carolina last 
year conferred upon Mr. Sprunt the degree of doctor of laws. 
And more recently the old historic College of William and 



Mary, in Virginia, chartered in 1693, unanimously elected him 
a member, causa honoris , of the Alpha Chapter of the Phi Beta 
Kappa Society of that college. This is the honor literary 
society of America, organized at William and Mary in 1776, 
and in the selection of those invited to become members the 
greatest care is exercised, membership being equivalent to an 
honorary degree conferred by any of our colleges and giving 
the recipient special distinction. g ^ Ashe 

November 10, 1916. 



Foreword ix 

Exploration and Settlement: Origin of the Name Cape Fear — 

The Cape Fear River and Its Tributaries — The Cape Fear 
Indians — Notes on the Archaeology of New Hanover County — 
Indian Mounds on the Cape Fear — Indians of the Lower 
Cape Fear — Report of the Commissioners sent in 1663 to 
Explore the Coast — Charlestown, the First Attempted Set- 
tlement on the Cape Fear — Sandford’s Account of Conditions 
on Charles River — End of the Settlement on Charles River, 
the First Charlestown — Cape Fear Pirates of 1719 1 

Permanent Settlement: The Town of Brunswick — A Visit to the 

Cape Fear in 1734 — Erection of Wilmington, Decay of Bruns- 
wick — The Spanish Invasion, 1747 — The War of Jenkins’ Ear 
— The Site of Fort Johnston — Colonial Plantations on the 
Cape Fear — Colonial Orton — Crane Neck Heron Colony on 
Orton Plantation — Plantations on the Northeast — Social Con- 
ditions — Libraries on the Cape Fear — Colonial Governors of 
North Carolina — Colonial Members of the General Assembly. . 38 

Resistance Before the Revolution: The Stamp Act on the Cape 

Fear — William Houston, the Stamp Master: Another View- 
point — Russellborough, Scene of the First Armed Resistance 
— The Sons of Liberty in North Carolina 91 

The Revolution: Institution of Revolutionary Government — Pro- 

ceedings of the Committee of Safety — Whigs and Tories — 

The Battle of Elizabethtown — Old-Time Cape Fear Heroes — 
Cornelius Harnett’s Will — Flora Macdonald 110 

Early Years: Alyre Raffeneau Delile — Beginning of Federal For- 

tifications on the Cape Fear — The First Steamboat on the 
Cape Fear River — The Disastrous Year of 1819 — Other Early 
Fires — First Cape Fear Improvements — Railroads, the First 
Project — The Wilmington and Weldon Railroad — The Com- 
merce of Wilmington — Wilmington in the Forties — The Pub- 
lic Spirit of Wilmington — Activities on the River, 1850-1860 
— Forgotten Aids to the Navigation of the Cape Fear — Cape 
Fear Coal — Fayetteville on the Cape Fear 130 

Notable Incidents: Visits of Presidents of the United States to 

Wilmington before the War — The Visit of Henry Clay — The 
Visit of Daniel Webster — The Visit of Edward Everett — Re- 
ception of the Remains of John C. Calhoun — The Death of 
General James Ivor McKay — Governor Edward B. Dudley — 

The Wilkings-Flanner Duel 208 




Interesting Memories: Old School Days in Wilmington — Colonel 
James G. Burr — The Thalian Association — A Fragmentary 
Memory of Johnson Hooper — Joseph Jefferson — Immortality 
— The Jenny Lind Incident 238 

War Between the States: On the Eve of Secession — A Capture 

Before the War — Early War Times — Changes during the 
War — Mrs Armand J. DeRosset — Confederate Heroes — The 
Roster of Cape Fear Camp, U. C. V. — Fort Caswell — Fort 
Fisher 268 

Blockade Running: Financial Estimates of Blockade Running — 

The Port of Wilmington during the War — Cape Fear Pilots 
— Narratives of Distinguished Blockade Runners — Rescue of 
Madame DeRosset — Improved Ships and Notable Command- 
ers — North Carolina Blockade Runner Advance — Other Ves- 
sels Famous in Blockade Running — The Last Days of Block- 
ade Running — The Confederate Navy — Wilmington during 
the Blockade — The First and Second Attacks upon Fort 
Fisher — The Capture of Wilmington — The Use of Torpedoes 
in the Cape Fear during the War 387 

Peace Restored: Resumption of Cape Fear Commerce — Trade of 

Wilmington, 1815, 1843, 1872 — Cuban Man-of-War Incident — 

Board of Commissioners of Navigation and Pilotage — Cape 
Fear Aids to Navigation — General Character of the Coast — 

United States Revenue-Cutter Service — Cape Fear Life-Sav- 
ing Service — Use of Oil to Prevent Breaking Seas — Visits of 
the Cruiser Raleigh — Federal Government Improvements of 
the Upper Cape Fear — Disastrous Fires — The Earthquake of 
1886 — The Visit of President Taft — Woodrow Wilson’s Youth , 

in Wilmington — Southport on the Cape Fear — Fort Caswell 
at the Present Time — The Proposed Coastal Canal — Munici- 
pal Government in Wilmington — The Revolution of 1898 — 

Cape Fear Newspapers — The Wilmington Bar — Honorable 
George Davis, Attorney General of the Confederacy — George j 

Davis: An Appreciation — The George Davis Monument — 

Alfred Moore Waddell: Author — Bishop Robert Strange — 

North Carolina Society of Colonial Dames of America — 

Places of Historic Interest in North Carolina Relating to the 
Colonial Period Yet Unmarked — Luola Murchison Sprunt: 

An Appreciation — The Boys’ Brigade — Public Buildings in | 

Wilmington — Wilmington Churches — Wilmington Schools — 

Loyalty of the Cape Fear People to the State University — 

The Atlantic Coast Line Railroad — The Seaboard Air Line j 

Railroad — Hugh MacRae’s Activities — The River Counties — 

The Growth of Wilmington — Looking Forward 501 | 


From early youth I have loved the Cape Fear River, the 
ships and the sailors which it bears upon its bosom. As a hoy 
I delighted to wander along the wharves where the sailing 
ships were moored with their graceful spars and rigging in 
relief against the sky-line, with men aloft whose uncouth cries 
and unknown tongues inspired me with a longing for the sea, 
which I afterwards followed, and for the far-away countries 
whence they had come. 

In later years, I heard the stories of the old-time Cape Fear 
gentlemen, whose memories I revere, and I treasured those 
annals of our brave and generous people ; I knew all the pilots 
of the Cape Fear, whose record of brave deeds and unswerving 
loyalty to the Confederacy, under great trial and temptation, 
and whose steadfast industry in their dangerous calling are 
worthy of all praise ; and now, actuated by an earnest desire to 
render a public service after many years’ contact with its men 
and affairs, I have essayed to write in the following pages a 
concise narrative of the sources and tributary streams of the 
Cape Fear River, the origin of its name, the development of 
its commerce, and the artificial aids to its navigation, with a 
few historic incidents of its tidewater region. 

The limited scope of this undertaking does not reach beyond 
the mere outlines of its romantic, dramatic history, of which 
much has been ably written by George Davis, Alfred Moore 
Waddell, Samuel A’Court Ashe, and other historians of the 
Cape Fear. 

I have often looked from my window upon the historic river 
and seen the white sails glistening in the morning light, and 
when the evening shadows deepened I have gazed upon the wide 
expanse resplendent with the glory of the stars and have heard 
the sailors in the bay singing “Larboard watch, ahoy!” while 
the anchor lights of half a hundred ships were twinkling at 
their moorings, and it was something to remember in after 

Memory lingers with a certain endearment upon the daily 
activities in the harbor in that far-gone day, when the course of 
life was more attuned to the placid flow of the river than in this 
rushing, jarring time. ~No more is heard the long-drawn cry of 



the stevedore, “Go ahead, horse” and “Back down lively.” No 
more do we hear the song of the chanty man rise shrill and clear 
to the accompaniment of chuckling blocks and creaking yards, 
nor the hearty, deep tones of the chorus as the old-time sailor 
men tramped round the windlass from wharf to wharf, singing : 

“Oh, blow, ye winds, I long to hear you, 

Blow, bullies, blow! 

Oh, blow today and blow tomorrow, 

Blow, my bully boys, blow! 

“Oh, blow today and blow tomorrow, 

Blow, bullies, blow! 

Oh, blow away all care and sorrow, 

Blow, my bully boys, blow!” 

“A tremulous echo is all that is left of these old-time re- 
frains,” hut some of our older citizens will recall these plaint- 
ive though senseless ditties, also the John Kooner songs, which 
have enlivened many a dull hour in the old seaport of the Cape 

Many years ago, when the arched courthouse stood at the foot 
of Market Street, a party of prominent citizens were discussing 
under its roof the events of the day in the soft light of a beauti- 
ful full moon, and while they talked they heard the tramp of 
twenty sailor men from a near-by French ship moored at Market 
Dock; and then in clear and exquisite tones the sailors sang 
with all the enthusiasm it inspired the Marseillaise battle 
hymn. Colonel Burr, who heard them, told me many years after 
that it was one of the most delightful memories of a lifetime. 

But now the distracting hammering against rusting steel 
plates, the clanking of chains against the steamship’s sides, and 
the raucous racket of the steam donkey betoken a new era in 
the harbor of Wilmington ; yet the silent river flows on with the 
silent years as when Yassall sent the first settlers, or as when 
Flora Macdonald sailed past the town to the restful haven of 
Cross Creek; and the Dram Tree still stands to warn the out- 
going mariner that his voyage has begun and to welcome the 
incoming storm-tossed sailor to the quiet harbor beyond. 

I have obtained the data of the commercial development of 
the river largely from official sources or reliable records, and I 
have copied verbatim, in some technical detail, the generous 
responses to my inquiries by Maj. H. W. Stickle, Corps of 
Engineers, U. S. A. ; Capt. C. S. Bidley, assistant engineer, IT. 



S. A.; Mr. E. C. Merritt, assistant engineer; Mr. Joseph Hyde 
Pratt, State geologist ; Dr. J oseph A. Holmes, director Bureau 
of Mines; Capt. G. L. Carden, commanding IT. S. revenue 
cutter Seminole ; Mr. H. D. King, inspector lights and light- 
houses, Sixth District, and Hon. S. I. Kimball, general super- 
intendent of the Life Saving Service, now embraced in the 
Coast Guard, to each of whom I make this grateful acknowl- 

This book is intimately associated with two good friends, 
Capt. Samuel A’Court Ashe and Miss Eosa Pendleton Chiles, 
to whom I am especially indebted for their invaluable aid, and 
sympathy, and advice ; for without their generous assistance this 
work might not have been accomplished. 

Exploration and Settlement 


By George Davis. 

The origin of the name Cape Fear and its confusion in some 
of our early maps with Cape Fair led, many years ago, to a dis- 
cussion by the Historical and Scientific Society of Wilmington, 
of which this writer was the secretary. A prominent Wiiming- 
tonian of his day, Mr. Henry Nutt, to whose indefatigable, in- 
telligent efforts and public spirit the closure of New Inlet was 
largely due, stoutly maintained in a forceful address before that 
body that the name was originally Fair and not Fear. 

Mr. George Davis subsequently took the opposite view in his 
valuable contribution entitled An Episode in Gape Fear History, 
published in the South Atlantic Magazine, January, 1879, which 
.1 here reprint under the above title. 

Is it Cape Fair? Or Cape Fear? Adjective or noun? 
“Under which king, Bezonian?” This old familiar name 
under which our noble river rolls its waters to the sea, is it the 
true prince of the ancient line, or a base pretender, usurping 
the seat of the rightful heir, and, after the fashion of usurpers, 
giving us terror for beauty, storm for sunshine? 

There are some among our most intelligent citizens who 
maintain that the true name was, and ought to be now, Cape 
Fair; and that it was originally so given because the first adven- 
turers, seeing with the eye of enthusiasm, found everything here 
to be fair, attractive, and charming. And it has even been said 
very lately that it was never called by its present name until 
after 1750, and never officially until 1780. (Address of H. 
Uutt before H. and S. Society.) Unfortunately, in the mists 
which envelop some portions of our early history, it is some- 
times very difficult to guard against being betrayed into erro- 
neous conjectures by what appear to be very plausible reasons; 
and the materials for accurate investigation are not of easy ac- 
cess. It is not surprising, therefore, that this opinion should 
have existed for some time, not generally, but to a limited ex- 
tent. Beyond all doubt it is erroneous, and the proofs are con- 
clusive that our people have been right in finally rejecting the 
Beautiful theory, and accepting the Fearful. I know of no au- 
thority for this opinion except the occasional spelling of the 
word. The strength of the argument seems to be this : Captain 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Hilton was sent in 1663 for the purpose of examining the coun- 
try; he did examine it, reported in glowing terms as to its 
beauty and attractiveness, and throughout his report spelled the 
name Fair. I answer, Very true. But three years later, in 
1666, Robert Horne published his Brief Description of Carolina > 
under the eye, and no doubt by the procurement, of the Pro- 
prietors ; he describes the country in much more glowing terms 
of praise than Hilton did, but spells the name, throughout, 
Fear. And where are we then? And later still, in 1711, a high 
authority, Christopher Gale, chief justice of North Carolina, 
like a prudent politician who has not made up his mind which 
party to join, spells it neither Fair nor Fear, but Fare. (2 
Hawks, 391.) That the name in early times was not infre- 
quently spelt Fair is unquestionable. Besides Hilton’s report, 
it is so given in the Letter of the English Adventurers to the 
Proprietors, 1663 ; in the Instructions of the Proprietors to 
Governor Yeamans, 1665 ; in Lawson’s history and map, 1709 ; 
and on Wimble’s map, 1738. And perhaps other instances 
may be found. 

But all these, if they stood alone and unopposed, could 
hardly form the basis of any solid argument. For all who are 
accustomed to examine historical documents will know too well 
how widely independent of all law, if there was any law, our 
ancestors were in their spelling, especially of proper names. 
Pen in hand, they were accustomed to dare every vagary, and 
no amount of heroic spelling ever appalled them. 

Some examples will be instructive in our present investiga- 
tion. Take the great name of him who was “wholly gentleman, 
wholly soldier,” who, falling under the displeasure of a scoun- 
drel King and languishing for twelve long years under sentence 
of ignominious death, sent forth through his prison bars such 
melodious notes that the very King’s son cried out, “Ho mon- 
arch in Christendom hut my father would keep such a bird in a 
cage” ; who, inexhaustible in ideas as in exploits, after having 
brought a new world to light, wrote the history of the old in a 
prison, and then died, because God had made him too great for 
his fellows — that name which to North Carolina ears rings 
down through the ages like a glorious chime of bells — the name 
of our great Sir Walter. We know that it was spelt three dif- 
ferent ways, Raleigh, Ralegh, and Rawlegh. 

And Sir Walter’s heroic kinsman, that grand old sea-king 
who fought his single ship for fifteen straight hours against 

Exploration and Settlement 


fifteen Spaniards, one after another, muzzle to muzzle, and 
then yielded up his soul to God in that cheerful temper where- 
with men go to a banquet: “Here die I, Richard Greenville, 

and with a joyful and quiet mind, having ended my life like a 
true soldier that has fought for his country, Queen, religion, 
and honor. 7 ’ He was indifferently Greenville, Grenville, and 

And take another of these sea-kings of old who sailed to 
America in the early days — that brilliant, restless, daring 
spirit who crowded into a few brief years enough of wild adven- 
ture and excitement to season a long life, and then died little 
more than a boy — he was indifferently Cavendish and Candish. 

Who, without assistance, could recognize Bermuda in the 
“still vexed Bermoothes” of Shakespeare? And Horne’s pam- 
phlets, of which I have spoken, could only improve it into 

Coming down to the very time of which we are speaking, one 
of the first acts of the Lords Proprietors after receiving their 
magnificent grant was to publish the important document to 
which I have alluded, the Declaration and Proposals to all who 
will plant in Carolina. It is signed by some of the most famous 
names in English history — George, Duke of Albemarle, the 
prime mover in bringing about the restoration of the King; 
Edward, Earl of Clarendon, Lord High Chancellor, and grand- 
father of two English queens, but far more famous as the author 
of that wonderful book, the History of the Great Rebellion ; 
Anthony, Earl of Shaftesbury, Lord High Chancellor and one 
of the greatest parliamentary leaders that England ever pro- 
duced, but far greater as the author of that second charter of 
Anglo-Saxon liberties, the Habeas Corpus Act. This very gifted 
and very famous Earl of Shaftesbury, who, I am sorry to say, 
was more distinguished for brilliant talents than for virtuous 
principles, besides being one of the Proprietors had an addi- 
tional claim to our remembrance which has not been generally 
known. At a meeting of the Proprietors held at the Cockpit 
the 21st of October, 1669 (Rivers, 346), he was elected the first 
chief justice of Carolina. As he never visited America I pre- 
sume his office was in a great degree purely honorary. But he 
certainly executed its functions to the extent at least of its offi- 
cial patronage. Eor the record has been preserved which shows 
that on the 10th of June, 1675, by virtue of that office, he ap- 
pointed Andrew Percival to be register of Berkeley Precinct. 

4 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

He had not then been raised to the peerage, hut was only Sir 
Anthony Ashley Cooper. He gave his two family names to the 
rivers at Charleston, and then took himself the title of Shaftes- 

Such were some of the signers of this pamphlet. Surely these 
men knew. Surely they would give us some unimpeachable 
English. Well, we have an exact copy of the pamphlet and I 
give you my word that, according to our notions, the spelling 
of it is enough to put the whole school of lexicographers in a 
madhouse. Instance the following : u Clar ending, ’ : ’ “Horthine,” 
“plantacon,” “proposealls,” “grannte,” “ingaige,” “groathe,” 
etc., etc. These examples, which might he indefinitely multi- 
plied, are sufficient to show that he is a hold speculator who will 
venture to build an opinion on the spelling of a name. 

But the opposing proofs are quite conclusive, and I do not 
scruple to promise that for every authentic map or document, 
prior to the year 1700, in which the name is written Fair, I 
will point out at least two in which it is written as at present. 
An examination of some of the most important of them will 
remove all doubt from the subject. 

In DeBry’s map of Lane’s expedition, 1585, no name is given 
to the cape, hut we find it distinctly laid down, and indicated 
by two Latin words which are very significant, promontorium 
tremendum. And in the narrative of Sir Richard Greenville’s 
first expedition, in the same year, we find the very first recorded 
mention of the name, which ought to he sufficient of itself to 
fix its certainty for all time. Eor we read there, for the month 
of June, 1585, this entry: “The 23d we were in great danger 

of a wreck on a breach called the Gape of Fear.” 

And two years later, in the narrative of the first voyage 
under White, we are told in July, 1587, that “had not Captain 
Stafford been more careful in looking out than our Simon 
Fernando, we had been all cast away upon the breach called 
the Cape of Fear.” 

And here we have another orthographic problem to solve. 
Both of these old worthies speak of the Cape of Fear as being 
not a beach , hut a breach ; and, on the strength of that, possibly 
some severe precisian may hereafter start the theory, and prove 
it too, that the cape was no cape at all, hut only a breach or 
channel through the Frying Pan Shoals. 

Coming down near a hundred years to the time of the first 
settlements, we find the original spelling preserved in the Letter 

Exploration and Settlement 


of the Proprietors to Sir William Berkeley, 1663 ; in the Pro- 
posals of the Proprietors already mentioned, 1663 ; in Horne’s 
Brief Description of Carolina and on the accompanying map, 
1666 ; in the map styled A New Description of Carolina , 1671 ; 
in the Instructions of the Proprietors to the Governor and 
Council of Carolina, 1683, and in a great many others. 

These proofs would seem to leave nothing wanting to a clear 
demonstration of the real name. But there is something yet to 
be added. They show that during the same period of time the 
name was spelt both ways indifferently, not only by different 
persons, but the same persons, who had peculiar means of 
knowing the truth. It is clear, therefore, that the two modes 
were not expressive of two different ideas, but only different 
forms of expressing the same idea. What then was the true 
idea of the name — its raison d’etre ? 

In pursuing that inquiry our attention must he directed to the 
cape alone, and not to the river. For, as we have seen, the cape 
bore its name for near a hundred years during which the river 
was nameless, if not unknown. And, when brought into notice 
afterwards, the river bore at first a different name, and only 
after some time glided into the name of the cape. Thus, in the 
Letter of the Proprietors to Sir William Berkeley, 8th of Sep- 
tember, 1663, after directing him to procure a small vessel to 
explore the sounds, they say, “And whilst they are aboard they 
may look into Charles River a very little to the Southward of 
Cape Fear.” And so in the Proposals of the Proprietors, 15th 
of August, 1663, “If the first colony will settle on Charles 
River, near Cape Fear,” etc., etc., and in Horne’s map, 1666, 
the name is Charles River. 

Looking then to the cape for the idea and reason of its name, 
we find that it is the southernmost point of Smith’s Island — a 
naked, bleak elbow of sand, jutting far out into the ocean. Im- 
mediately in its front are the Frying Pan Shoals, pushing out 
still farther, twenty miles, to sea. Together they stand for 
warning and for woe; and together they catch the long majestic 
roll of the Atlantic as it sweeps through a thousand miles of 
grandeur and power from the Arctic towards the Gulf. It is the 
playground of billows and tempests, the kingdom of silence and 
awe, disturbed by no sound save the sea gull’s shriek and the 
breakers’ roar. Its whole aspect is suggestive, not of repose and 
beauty, but of desolation and terror. Imagination can not adorn 
it. Romance can not hallow it. Local pride can not soften it. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

There it stands today, bleak, and threatening, and pitiless, as it 
stood three hundred years ago, when Greenville and White came 
nigh nnto death upon its sands. And there it will stand, bleak, 
and threatening, and pitiless, nntil the earth and the sea shall 
give up their dead. And, as its nature, so its name, is now, 
always has been, and always will be, the Cape of Fear. 


The Cape Fear River, said to have been known to the Indian 
aborigines as “Sapona,” later to the explorers and to the pro- 
moters in England as the Charles River, and the Clarendon 
River, is formed by the junction of the Haw and the Deep 
Rivers, in Chatham County, North Carolina. From their con- 
fluence, which is about 173 miles by river above Wilmington, 
it flows in a southeasterly direction through Harnett, Cumber- 
land, and Bladen Counties, and between Brunswick and New 
Hanover to the sea. The Haw River rises in Rockingham and 
Guilford Counties and flows in a southeasterly direction through 
Alamance, Orange, and Chatham Counties to .its junction with 
the Deep River, a distance of about 80 miles, measured along 
its general course. The Deep River is of about the same length 
as the Haw. It rises in Guilford County and flows through 
Randolph and Moore Counties, and joins the Haw in Chatham. 

The Deep River drains about 1,400 square miles. Its tribu- 
taries are only small creeks, the most important being Rocky 
River. The Haw River drains about 1,800 square miles, and 
its tributaries are also small, but are larger than those of the 
Deep River. The principal ones, descending from the head- 
waters, are Reedy Fork, Alamance Creek, Cane Creek, and 
New Hope River. 

Between the junction of the Deep and the Haw Rivers and 
Fayetteville, a distance of about 58 miles, the most important 
tributaries which join the Cape Fear are Upper Little River, 
from the west, 32 miles long; and Lower Little River, from 
the west, 45 miles long. There are other small creeks, the most 
important being Carver’s Creek and Blount’s Creek. 

Between Wilmington and Fayetteville the most important 
tributary is Black River, which enters from the east about 15 
miles above Wilmington and has a drainage basin of about 
1,430 souare miles. There are several creeks which enter 

Exploration and Settlement 


below Fayetteville, the principal one being Rockfish Creek, 
which enters 10 miles below Fayetteville. 

The entire drainage basin above Fayetteville covers an area 
of 4,493 square miles, and the total drainage area of the Cape 
Fear and all its tributaries is about 8,400 square miles. 

At Wilmington the Cape Fear River proper is joined by the 
Northeast Cape Fear River. Their combined average dis- 
charge at Wilmington for the year is about 14,000 feet a 
second. Floods in their tributaries have but little effect on the 
water level at Wilmington. The lower river is tidal, and the 
effects of tidal variations are felt about 40 miles above the city 
on both branches. 

The city of Wilmington is on the east side of the river, oppo- 
site the junction of the two branches, and nearly all wharves, 
mills, and terminals are situated on the same side. The width 
of the river at Wilmington is 500 to 1,000 feet. Four miles 
below, it becomes 1% miles wide, and is of the nature of a tidal 
estuary, varying in width as it flows to the sea from 1 to 3 miles. 
The distance from Wilmington to the ocean is 30 miles. 

Improvements Below Wilmington. 

The improvement of the river was begun by the State of 
North Carolina between Wilmington and Big Island by em- 
bankments, jetties, and dredging in 1822, and continued until 
1829, when the Federal Government undertook the work of im- 
provement and continued it to 1839. Work was resumed in 
1847 and continued up to the War between the States. It was 
again resumed in 1870 and has been carried on continuously 
since that date. 

A report of the Committee on Bar and River Improvements 
to the Chamber of Commerce, January 15, 1872, contains the 
following interesting information: 

“The earliest reliable information we have of the Cape Fear 
River, its entrance and harbor, is to be found in a map by 
Edward Moseley, in 1733, and another by James Wimble, in 
1738. Both of these maps, although apparently imperfect, 
nevertheless represent the harbor as capacious, of good anchor- 
age, well landlocked, easy of access, and with four fathoms 
water upon the bar (supposed at mean low tide). About this 
draught of water w T as carried by a bold and direct channel on 
the west side of Big Island 1 to the town of Wilmington. 

ir nie river channel was at that time on the west side of Big Island. 
Since then it has been artificially diverted to the east side of Big Island. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

“The next we hear of the Cape Tear River is through Wheel- 
er’s History of North Carolina (extracted from the London 
Magazine ), giving an account of the most violent equinoctial 
storm which had ever occurred along the coast, forcing open an 
entrance into the river at a point known as the ‘Haul-over,’ now 
known as the Hew Inlet. This storm commenced on the 20th 
of September, 1761, and lasted four days. 

“This inlet, from long neglect, has become formidable, de- 
tracting a large portion of the river water from its legitimate 
outlet, to the great detriment of the river and lower harbor. 

“In 1775, a map of the Cape Fear River, more accurate in 
its details than the two first alluded to, was published in Lon- 
don, which laid down the Hew Inlet, but did not materially 
vary the harbor, outlet, or draught of water upon the bar, or the 
channel of the river up to the town of Wilmington. 

“At a meeting of the Safety Committee of Wilmington, held 
on the 20th of Hovember, 1775, John Ancrum presiding, the 
following preamble and resolutions were passed: 

“ ‘The committee, taking into consideration the damage with which 
the inhabitants of the Cape Fear River are threatened by the King’s 
ships now in the harbor, and the open and avowed contempt and viola- 
tion of justice in the conduct of Governor Martin, who, with the assist- 
ance of said ships, is endeavoring to carry off the artillery, the prop- 
erty of this province, and the gift of his late Majesty of blessed mem- 
ory, for our protection from foreign invasion, have 

“ ‘Resolved, That Messrs. John Forster, William Wilkinson, and John 
Slingsby, or any one of them, be empowered to procure necessary ves- 
sels, boats, and chains, to sink in such part of the channel as they or 
any of them may think proper, to agree for the purchase of such boats 
and other materials as may be wanted, and to have them valued, that 
the owners may be reimbursed by the public. And it is further ordered, 
that the said John Forster & Co. do consult the committee of Brunswick 
on this measure and request their concurrence.’ 

“A knowledge of the men of that period, with the boisterous 
circumstances which surrounded them, is sufficient evidence 
that this order was implicitly obeyed and effectually executed, 
no report of their action being required or expected. 

“Tradition assures us that these obstacles were placed across 
the channel at Big Island. We therefore feel justified in say- 
ing that the channel, as laid down by all previous maps, was, 
at that time and place, obstructed agreeably to the order> as 
subsequent events would seem to imply. From time to time, 
logs, stumps, and other drift matter brought down by freshets 

Exploration and Settlement 


lodged against the obstructions, backing up nearly to the nar- 
rows and forming wbat is known as the flats or shoal of logs, 
which, as it increased, gradually forced the water through an 
opening on the west side of Big Island, and in course of time 
scoured out a channel sufficient to accommodate the commerce 
of the port, and so remained until the year 1826. 

“In the year 1797-8, a survey and map of the Cape Bear 
Elver, its harbors and outlets, was made by Joshua Potts. At 
this time, thirty-seven years after the breaking out of New In- 
let, we find very little alteration in the harbor or outlet — the 
bar representing 20 feet of water (supposed at mean low tide), 
while the channels of the river up to Wilmington had under- 
gone material change, and very much depreciated. 7 ’ 

A report of the same committee, made four years earlier 
than the one just quoted, refers to the Potts survey, and says : 

“Older charts than this exhibit a greater draught of water, 
particulars of which, however, are not accurately remembered 
by your committee. Many old citizens now living remember 
to have seen at our wharves vessels drawing 15 to 18 feet of 
water. But about the year 1820, as the depth of water in- 
creased on Eew Inlet, in like proportion it diminished on the 
Main Bar, maintaining upon both the aggregate of about 25 
feet. The late Capt. Thomas E. Gautier, who was a merchant 
of this place during the period of time included between the 
years 1790 and 1810, told one of your committee that during 
that period, among many others, he had loaded one ship to 30 
feet draught, which proceeded down the river to sea, on her 
voyage to London, without difficulty or interruption. These 
facts in the history of the past are conclusive evidence, in the 
minds of your committee, that the true and real cause of the 
present alarming condition of the navigation of our bars and 
river is to be found in the existence of the Eew Inlet, and that 

A report of Alexander Strauss to the mayor and aldermen of 
Wilmington, under date of March 6, 1870, says: 

“The bar in the Old Ship Channel has shoaled 2% feet 
in the last five years, and therefore any procrastination in the 
work will he injurious to our commerce, as I believe it can 
be shown that year by year since 1840 the obstruction has in- 
creased, and unless speedy action is taken it will result in the 
total destruction of our harbor. I base my opinion on data 
gained from different surveys made from the year 1733 to 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

1869. On the survey of 1733, a depth of 21 feet is shown in 
the Old Ship Channel at mean low water, and in 1869 only 
5 y 2 can be found in the same channel.” 

The condition of the river prior to the opening of New Inlet 
(which occurred during an equinoctial storm in 1761) is rather 
uncertain, but old maps indicate that there was a low-water 
depth of 14 feet across the bar at the mouth, the least depth 
between Wilmington and the mouth being 7% feet. There is 
also some uncertainty as to the conditions in 1829, when the 
improvement was undertaken by the United States, but the 
most reliable information is that there w T as then about 7 to 7% 
feet at low water in the river, about 9 feet in Bald Head Chan- 
nel, 9 feet in Rip Channel, and 10 feet at New Inlet. Work on 
the bar was begun in 1853, at which time the bar depths at low 
water were 7% feet in Bald Head Channel, 7 feet in Rip Chan- 
nel, and 8 feet at New Inlet, the governing low- water depth in 
the river having been increased to 9 feet. 

The original project of 1827 was to deepen by jetties the 
channel through the shoals in the 8 miles next below Wilming- 
ton. This project resulted in a gain of 2 feet available depth. 
The project of 1853 was to straighten and deepen the bar chan- 
nel by dredging, jettying, diverting the flow from the New 
Inlet, and closing breaches in Zeke’s Island. This project was 
incomplete when the War between the States began. Up to that 
time, $363,228.92 had been spent on the improvement. The 
work done during this period was measurably successful. The 
report of the commission of 1858 referring to it says: 

“The works recommended by the hoard of 1853 were, in the 
opinion of the commission, entirely efficient, so far as they were 
carried out, having, as is shown by the Coast-Survey maps, 
caused an increase in the depth of Oak Island Channel of be- 
tween one and two feet.” 

After the war the first project was that of 1870, to deepen 
the bar channel by closing breaches between Smith’s and Zeke’s 
Islands, with the ultimate closure of New Inlet in view. The 
project of 1873 included that of 1870 and in addition the dredg- 
ing of the bar channel and the closing of New Inlet. This work 
was in charge of Gen. J. H. Simpson, U. S. A., who was suc- 
ceeded in the management of it by Col. William P. Craighill. 
The main construction was under Maj. Walter Griswold, assist- 
ant engineer, whose services were able and highly acceptable. 
Mention should he made also of Henry Nutt, Esq., chairman 

Exploration and Settlement 


of the Committee on Bar and Kiver Improvements of the Cham- 
ber of Commerce, whose activities greatly advanced the work. 
The Wilmington Journal of March 20, 1872, contains the fol- 
lowing acknowledgment of his services: 

“We are unwilling to give expression to the bright hopes of 
the future we anticipate for our goodly old town. But whether 
that success he attained in full or scant measure, the name of 
Henry Hutt will, and ought to be, held in grateful remembrance 
by all our people to the last generation, as the earnest, persist- 
ent, and enthusiastic friend of this great work.’ 7 

The project of 1874 was to obtain by dredging a channel 100 
feet wide and 12 feet deep at low water up to Wilmington. 
The project of 1881 was to obtain by dredging a channel 270 
feet wide and 16 feet deep at low water up to Wilmington. 
These projects had been practically completed in 1889. At that 
time the expenditure since the war amounted to $2,102,271.93. 

The project adopted September 19, 1890, was to obtain a 
mean low- water depth of 20 feet and a width of 270 feet from 
Wilmington to the ocean. This project has been modified sev- 
eral times. 

For the five years ending June 30, 1915, there was expended 
for river improvements $1,440,844.02, and the commerce on 
the Cape Fear River at and below Wilmington averaged 929,- 
336 tons, with an average valuation of $50,978,671.06 for the 
five calendar years. At the close of the year ending June 30, 
1915, there had been a total expenditure of $5,974,868.48. The 
project below Wilmington under execution was adopted in the 
River and Harbor Act approved July 25, 1912, and provides 
for a channel depth of 26 feet at mean low water, with a width 
of 300 feet, increasing at the entrance and curves in the river 
and widening to 400 feet across the bar. The project is eighty 
per cent completed, the depth having been secured throughout 
the entire distance, additional work being required only to 
widen the channel where the width is deficient. On June 30, 
1915, a mean low-water channel 26 feet deep and from 280 to 
400 feet wide existed on the ocean bar and 26 feet deep and 300 
feet wide in the river channels, excepting at Snow’s Marsh 
Channel, where the 26-foot channel was from 150 to 270 feet 

The various projects adopted by the Federal Government 
involved the closing of Hew Inlet and the construction of a 
defensive dike from Zeke’s Island, on the south side of Hew 

12 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Inlet, to Smith’s Island. The dam closing Hew Inlet was con- 
structed between 1875 and 1881 and is 5,300 feet long. It is 
built of stone, its first cost being $540,237.11. It was badly 
damaged by a storm in 1906, and the cost of its restoration and 
of other minor repairs made since its completion was $103,- 
044.75, making its total cost to date $643,281.86. Swash De- 
fense Dam, south of Hew Inlet, was constructed between 1883 
and 1889 and is 12,800 feet long. It is also built of stone, the 
first cost being $225,965. The cost of restoring this dam after 
the storm of 1906, including other repairs made since its com- 
pletion, was $170,109.53, making the total cost to date $396,- 
074.53. With the exception of the construction of these two 
dams, the results have been accomplished almost wholly by 

It is interesting to note in this connection that the total ex- 
penditures of the Federal Government upon Charleston Harbor 
to June 30, 1915, amounted to $5,084,771.90, and the total 
expenditures on Cape Fear River at and below Wilmington to 
the same date was $5,985,990.01. 

Hortheast Cape Fear River. 

Hortheast Cape Fear River has a total length of 130 miles 
(70 miles in a straight line) and has been under improvement 
since 1890, the project including the clearing of the natural 
channel for small steamers to Hallsville, 88 miles above its 
mouth, and for pole boats to Kornegay’s Bridge, 103 miles 
above its mouth. 

The work has consisted in removing snags and other inci- 
dental obstructions from the channel and leaning trees from the 
banks. F or several years past, work has been for the purpose of 
maintenance only. To June 30, 1913, there had been spent on 
this stream for improvement and maintenance $33,738.86. At 
present 8 feet can be carried to Rocky Point Landing, 35 miles 
from the mouth, 5 feet to Smith’s Bridge, 52 miles up, and 3 
feet to Croom’s Bridge, 8 miles further, at all stages. Above 
that point it is only navigable during freshets. 

Black River. 

This stream has been under improvement since 1887. The 
original project of 1885 included clearing the natural channel 
and banks to Lisbon and cutting off a few points at bends, 

Exploration and Settlement 


modified in 1893, and omitting the part above Clear Run, 66 
miles above the mouth. This was completed in 1895. Since 
that time it has been under maintenance. The total amount 
expended to June 30, 1913, for improvement and maintenance 
was $32,877.26. The work has consisted in removing obstruc- 
tions from the channel and leaning trees from the banks, and in 
a small amount of dredging. 

At present a depth of 5 feet can be carried to Point Caswell 
at low stages, above which point there is but little navigation 
excepting during freshet stages. 

Town Creek. 

Town Creek is a tributary to Cape Fear River, entering it 
from the west about 7% miles below Wilmington. It is not 
now under improvement, but was placed under improvement in 
1881, the project being to obtain 4-foot navigation at low water 
by removing obstructions from the mouth to Saw-Pit Landing, 
20 miles above. After spending $1,000, this project was aban- 
doned. An appropriation of $8,500 was made in 1899 to be 
expended in obtaining a mean low-water channel 5 feet deep 
and 40 feet wide to Russell’s Landing, 19% miles above the 
mouth, and to clear the creek to Rock’s Landing, about 4 miles 
farther up. The 5-foot channel was obtained to Russell’s Land- 
ing by dredging, and snags were removed from the channel for 
the next mile above, when the funds were exhausted, and no 
further appropriation has been made. 

Brunswick River. 

About four miles above Wilmington, the Cape Fear River 
divides, the western branch forming Brunswick River. It flows 
in a southerly direction and again enters the Cape Fear River 
about four miles below Wilmington. 

This river has never been under improvement, but the River 
and Harbor Act of June 13, 1902, provides for an expenditure 
not exceeding $1,000 of the money appropriated for the im- 
provement of Cape Fear River, at and below Wilmington, in 
removing obstructions at the lower mouth of Brunswick River. 
Obstructions were removed from a width of 100 feet during 
1903 at a cost of $519, securing a channel at its mouth 100 feet 
wide and 7 feet deep. 1 

ir rhe foregoing technical information is from the reports of the U. S. 
Corps of Engineers, by the courtesy of Major Stickle. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

According to the recitals in the oldest deeds for lands on 
Eagles’ Island and in its vicinity on either side, the Northeast 
and the Northwest branches of the Cape Fear River come to- 
gether at the southern point of that island. What is now called 
Brunswick River, on the west side of the island, was then the 
main River; and Wilmington was on the Northeast branch, and 
not on the main stream of the Cape Fear. That portion of the 
river which runs from the Northeast branch by Point Peter, or 
Negrohead Point, as it is called, to the Northwest branch at the 
head of Eagles’ Island, is called in the old deeds and statutes 
of the State the “Thoroughfare,” and sometimes the “Cut- 
through” from one branch to the other; and the land granted 
to John Maultsby, on which a part of Wilmington is situated, 
is described as lying opposite to the mouth of the “Thorough- 
fare.” At another time, what is now known as Brunswick 
River was called Clarendon River. 


The tribal identity of the Cape Fear Indians has never been 
clearly established. We find Indian mounds, or tumuli, along 
the river and coast and in the midland counties, and we are told 
that the head waters of the Cape Fear River were known to our 
aborigines as “Sapona,” a tribal name also known farther north, 
and that “King” Roger Moore exterminated these Indians at 
Big Sugar Loaf after they had raided Orton ; but there is noth- 
ing in the mounds, where hundreds of skeletons are found, nor 
in the pottery and rude implements discovered therein, to iden- 
tify the tribe or prove the comparatively unsupported state- 
ments which we have hitherto accepted as facts. Capt. S. A. 
Ashe says: “The Cape Fear Indians along the coast were 

Southern. The Saponas who resided higher up were probably 
Northern. They were not exterminated by ‘King’ Roger; in 
fact, in 1790 there were still some in Granville, and a consid- 
erable number joined the Tuscaroras on the Tuscarora Reserva- 
tion on the Roanoke. They were both Northern, probably, 
otherwise the Saponas would not have been welcome.” 

There is reason to believe the tradition, generally known to 
our older inhabitants, that the Indians from the back country 
came regularly in the early springtime to the coast of the Cape 
Fear for the seawater fish and oysters which were abundant, and 
that their preparation for these feasts included the copious 

Exploration and Settlement 


drinking of a strong decoction of yopon leaves, which produced 
free vomiting and purgation, before they gorged themselves to 
repletion with the fish and oysters. 

The beautiful evergreen leaf and brilliant red berries of the 
yopon still abound along the river hanks near the remains of the 
Indian camps. The leaves were extensively used as a substitute 
for tea, which was unobtainable during our four years’ war, and 
the tea made from them was refreshing and tonic in its effects. 

Dr. Francis P. Venable says: “It belongs to the Ilex , or 

holly genus. My first analysis was on a small sample from Hew 
Bern and showed 0.32 per cent caffeine. Securing a larger sam- 
ple from near Wilmington, I found 0.27 per cent. The mate, 
or Paraguay tea, is also gotten from an Ilex and contains 0.63 
per cent. The percentage of tannin in the yopon is rather high 
and I suppose has something to do with the medicinal effect.” 

Dr. Curtis, an eminent botanist of Horth Carolina, says : 
<e Yopon I. Cassine , Linn. An elegant shrub ten to fifteen feet 
high, but sometimes rising to twenty or twenty-five feet. Its 
native place is near the water (salt) from Virginia southward, 
but never far in the interior. Its dark green leaves and bright 
red berries make it very ornamental in yards and shrubberies. 
The leaves are small, one-half to one inch long, very smooth and 
evenly scalloped on the edges, with small rounded teeth. In 
some sections of the lower district, especially in the region of 
the Dismal Swamp, these are annually dried and used for tea, 
which is, however, oppressively soporific — at least for one not 
accustomed to it.” 

Our yopon (the above) is the article from which the famous 
Black Drink of the Southern Indians was made. At a certain 
time of the year they came down in droves from a distance of 
several hundred miles to the coast for the leaves of this tree. 
They made a fire on the ground, and putting a great kettle of 
water on it, they threw in a large quantity of these leaves, and 
sitting around the fire, from a howl holding about a pint, they 
began drinking large draughts, which in a short time caused 
them to vomit easily and freely. Thus they continued drinking 
.and vomiting for a space of two or three days, until they had 
sufficiently cleansed themselves, and then, every one taking a 
bundle of the leaves, they all retired to their habitations. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Notes on the Archaeology of New Hanover County. 

By David I. Btjshnell, Jr. 

It is with no small satisfaction that I have obtained by the 
courtesy of such eminent authority as that of Mr. David I. Bush- 
nell, jr., of the Bureau of American Ethnology, who is now in 
Wilmington for investigations on the vanishing race, the follow- 
ing paper; and Mr. Bushnell has quoted from Mr. W. B. McKoy’s 
valuable contributions on the same subject. I also include Dr. 
Joseph A. Holmes’s report upon his personal investigations of the 
mounds in Duplin County, and a paper by Capt. S. A. Ashe on 
the Indians of the Lower Cape Fear. 

In reference to the Woccon, Saxapahaw, Cape Fear, and 
Warrennnncock Indians, we find it stated: “Of the North 

Carolina tribes hearing the foregoing names almost nothing is 
known, and of the last two even the proper names have not been 
recorded. The Woccon were Siouan; the Saxapahaw and Cape 
Fear Indians presumably were Siouan, as indicated from their 
associations and alliance with known Siouan tribes; while the 
Warrennuncock were probably some people better known under 
another name, although they cannot be identified.” 1 Unfor- 
tunately the identity of the Cape Fear Indians has not been 
revealed, and it may ever remain a mystery. The name was 
first bestowed, by the early colonists, upon the Indians whom 
they found occupying the lands about the mouth of the Cape 
Fear River, and more especially the peninsula now forming the 
southern part of New Hanover County. It is also possible the 
term “Cape Fear Indians” was applied to any Indians found in 
the vicinity, regardless of their tribal connections, and, as will 
be shown later, the area was frequented by numbers of different 
tribes. Although the native people were often mentioned in 
early writings, it is doubtful whether the Indian population of 
the peninsula ever exceeded a few hundred. 

Evidently Indians continued to occupy the lower part of the 
peninsula until about the year 1725, at which time, according 
to a well-substantiated tradition, they were driven from the 
section. “Roger Moore, because of his wealth and large number 
of slaves, was called ‘King’ Roger. There is a tradition on the 
Cape Fear that he and his slaves had a battle with the Indians 
at Sugar Loaf, nearly opposite the town of Brunswick. Gov- 
ernor Try on, forty years later, mentions that the last battle with 

^Mooney, James. The Siouan Tribes of the East. Bulletin Bureau of 
Ethnology, Washington, 1894, p. 65. 

Exploration and Settlement 


the Indians was when driving them from the Cape Fear in 
1725. The tradition would seem to he well founded.” 1 

At the present time, nearly two centuries after the expulsion 
of the last Indian inhabitants from the peninsula, we find many 
traces of their early occupancy of the area. Oysters and other 
mollusks served as important articles of food, and vast quantities 
of shells, intermingled with numerous fragments of pottery of 
Indian make, are encountered along the mainland, facing the 
sounds. These masses of shells do not necessarily indicate the 
sites of villages, or of permanent settlements, hut rather of places 
visited at different times by various families or persons for the 
purpose of gathering oysters, clams, etc. The majority of these 
were probably consumed on the spot, while others, following the 
custom of the more northern tribes, may have been dried in the 
smoke of the wigwam and thus preserved for future use. 

The many small pieces of pottery found, mingled with the 
shells, are pieces of vessels, probably cooking utensils, of the 
Indians. Many pieces hear on their outer or convex surfaces 
the imprint of twisted cords ; other fragments show the impres- 
sions of basketry. In a paper read before the Historical and 
Scientific Society, June 3, 1878, Mr. W. B. McKoy described 
this stage of pottery-making, after the clay had been properly 
prepared : “The mortar is then pressed by the hand on the in- 

side of a hastily constructed basket of wickerwork and allowed 
to dry for a while ; the basket is then inverted over a large fire 
of pitch pine and the pot is gradually hardened and blackened 
by the smoke, having the appearance of a thick iron pot. By 
constant use afterwards the particles of carbon that have en- 
tered the pores of the clay are burnt out and then the pot has a 
red appearance.” 2 Fragments occur upon which the designs are 
characteristic of pottery from the interior and farther south; 
other pieces are undoubtedly the work of the southern Algon- 
quin tribes. Within a radius of about one hundred miles were 
tribes of the Algonquin, Siouan, and Iroquoian stocks. Small 
parties of the different tribes were ever moving from place to 
place, and it is within reason to suppose that members of the 
various tribes, from time to time, visited the Cape Fear penin- 
sula ; thus explaining the presence of the variety of pottery dis- 
covered among the shell-heaps on the shore of the sound. 

^she, S. A. History of North Carolina. Greensboro, 1908. Vol. 1, 
p. 213. 

Published in the Daily Review, Wilmington, July 6, 1878. 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

The most interesting village site yet examined is located 
about one and one-half miles south of Myrtle Sound, three miles 
north of the ruins of Fort Fisher, and less than one hundred 
yards from the sea beach. Three small shell-mounds are stand- 
ing near the center of the area. The largest is about thirty 
inches in height and twenty feet in diameter. Quantities of 
pottery are scattered about on the surface, and a few pieces of 
stone are to he found. Sugar Loaf is less than one mile from 
this site in a northwesterly direction. Here, in the vicinity of 
the three shell-mounds, was probably the last Indian settlement 
on the peninsula. 

A level area of several acres at the end of Myrtle Sound was 
likewise occupied by a settlement, and fragments of pottery are 
very plentiful, these being intermingled with quantities of oyster 
and clamshells scattered over the surface. Many pieces of the 
earthenware from this site are unusually heavy and are prob- 
ably parts of large cooking vessels. 

Northward along the sound are other places of equal inter- 
est, some having the appearance of having been occupied during 
comparatively recent years. This may be judged from the con- 
dition of the shells and the weathering of the pottery. Other 
remains may date from a much earlier period ; but all represent 
the work of the one people, the Indians, who had occupied the 
country for centuries before the coming of the Europeans. 

On both sides of Hewlet’s Creek, near its mouth, are numer- 
ous signs of Indian occupancy. On the north side, in the rear 
of the old McKoy house, are traces of an extensive camp, and 
many objects of Indian origin are said to have been found here 
during past years. On the opposite side of the creek is a large 
shell-heap in which fragments of pottery occur. Several miles 
northward, on the left bank of Barren Inlet Creek, about one- 
half mile from the sound, are signs of a large settlement. Here 
an area of four or five acres is strewn with pottery. This was 
probably the site of a permanent village as distinguished from 
the more temporary camps met with on the shore of the sound. 

A careful examination of various sites existing on the penin- 
sula would be of the greatest interest. The burial places of the 
ancient inhabitants of the country would undoubtedly be dis- 
covered, and this would assist in the identification of the people 
who bore the name “Cape Fear Indians / 7 all traces of whom 
are so rapidly disappearing. 

Exploration and Settlement 


Indian Mounds of the Cape Fear. 

By Prof. J. A. Holmes. 

(Wilmington, N. C., Weekly Star, October 26, 1883. Reprinted Journal Elisha 
Mitchell Scientific Society 1883-4, pages 73 to 79.) 

So far as is known to me, no account of the Indian burial 
mounds which are to be found in portions of eastern Morth 
Carolina, has, as yet, been published. This fact is considered a 
sufficient reason for the publication of the following notes con- 
cerning a few of these mounds which have been examined in 
Duplin and some other counties in the region under consid- 

It is expected that the examination of other mounds will be 
carried on during the present year, and it is considered advisable 
to postpone generalized statements concerning them until these 
additional examinations have been completed. It may be stated, 
however, of the mounds that have been examined already, that 
they are quite different from those of Caldwell and other coun- 
ties of the western section of the State, and of much less interest 
so far as contents are concerned. As will he seen from the 
following notes, they are usually low, rarely rising to more than 
three feet above the surrounding surface, with circular bases, 
varying in diameter from 15 to 40 feet; and they contain little 
more than the hones of human (presumably Indian) skeletons, 
arranged in no special order. They have been generally built 
on somewhat elevated, dry, sandy places, out of a soil similar to 
that by which they are surrounded. Mo evidence of an excava- 
tion below the general surface has as yet been observed. In the 
process of burial, the hones or bodies seem to have been laid on 
the surface, or above, and covered up with soil taken from the 
vicinity of the mound. In every case that has come under my 
own observation charcoal has been found at the bottom of the 

Mound No. 1.— Duplin County, located at Kenansville, about 
one-half mile southwest from the courthouse, on a somewhat 
elevated, dry, sandy ridge. In form, its base is nearly circular, 
35 feet in diameter; height 3 feet. The soil of the mound is 
like that which surrounds it, with no evidence of stratification. 
The excavation was made by beginning on one side of the mound 
and cutting a trench 35 feet long, and to a depth nearly 2 feet 
below the general surface of the soil (5 feet below top of mound), 
and removing all the soil of the mound by cutting new trenches 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

and filling up the old ones. In this way all the soil of the 
mound, and for two feet below its base, was carefully examined. 
The soil below the base of the mound did not appear to have 
been disturbed at the time the mound was built. The contents 
of the mound included fragments of charcoal, a few small frag- 
ments of pottery, a handful of small shells, and parts of sixty 
human skeletons. Ho implements of any kind were found. 
Small pieces of charcoal were scattered about in different por- 
tions of the mound, but the larger portion of the charcoal was 
found at one place, 3 or 4 feet square, near one side of the 
mound. At this place the soil was colored dark and seemed to 
be mixed with ashes. There were here, with the charcoal, frag- 
ments of bones, some of which were dark colored, and may have 
been burned; hut they were so nearly decomposed that I was 
unable to satisfy myself as to this point. I could detect no evi- 
dence of burning, in case of the hones, in other portions of the 
mound. Fragments of pottery were few in number, small in 
size, and scattered about in different parts of the mound. They 
were generally scratched and cross-scratched on one side, but no 
definite figures could he made out. The shell “beads” were 
small in size — 10 to 12 mm. in length. They are the Margi- 
nella roscida of Redfield, a small gasteropod, which is said to he 
now living along the coasts of this State. The specimens, about 
75 in number, were all found together, lying in a hunch near 
the skull and breastbones of a skeleton. The apex of each one 
had been ground off obliquely so as to leave an opening passing 
through the shell from the apex to the anterior canal — probably 
for the purpose of stringing them. 

The skeletons of this mound were generally much softened 
from decay — many of the harder bones falling to pieces on be- 
ing handled, while many of the smaller and softer hones were 
beyond recognition. They were distributed through nearly 
every portion of the mound, from side to side, and from the base 
to the top surface, without, so far as was discovered, any definite 
order as to their arrangement. Hone were found below the level 
of the surface of the soil outside the mound. In a few cases the 
skeletons occurred singly, with no others within several feet; 
while in other cases, several were found in actual contact with 
one another; and in one portion of the mound, near the outer 
edge, as many as twenty-one skeletons were found placed within 
the space of six feet square. Here, in the case last mentioned, 
several of the skeletons lay side by side, others on top of these, 

Exploration and Settlement 


parallel to them, while still others lay on top of and across the 
first. When one skeleton was located above another, in some 
cases, the two were in actual contact; in other cases, they were 
separated by a foot or more of soil. 

As to the position of the parts of the individual skeletons, 
this could not he fully settled in the present case on account of 
the decayed condition of many of the bones. The following ar- 
rangement of the parts, however, was found to he true of nearly 
every skeleton exhumed. The bones lay in a horizontal position, 
or nearly so. Those of the lower limbs were bent upon them- 
selves at the knee, so that the thigh hone (femur) and the bones 
of the leg (tibia and fibula) lay parallel to one another, the 
bones of the foot and ankle being found with or near the hip 
bones. The knee cap, or patella, generally lying at its proper 
place, indicated that there must have been very little disturbance 
of the majority of the skeletons after their burial. The hones 
of the upper limbs also were seemingly bent upon themselves at 
the elbow; those of the forearm (humerus) generally lying quite 
or nearly side by side with the hones of the thigh and leg ; the 
elbow joint pointing toward the hip bones, while the bones of 
the two arms below the elbow joint (radius and ulna) were in 
many cases crossed, as it were, in front of the body. The ribs 
and vertehrse lay along by the side of, on top of, and between the 
bones of the upper and lower limbs, generally too far decayed 
to indicate their proper order or position. The skulls generally 
lay directly above or near the hip hones, in a variety of posi- 
tions ; in some cases the side, right or left, while in other cases 
the top of the skull, the base, or the front, was downward. 

But two of the crania (A and B of the following table) 
obtained from this mound were sufficiently well preserved for 
measurement; and both of these, as shown by the teeth, are 
skulls of adults. C of this table is the skull of an adult taken 
from Mound No. 2, below. 





Index of 

Index of 




193 mm. 

151 mm. 

144 mm. 





172 mm. 

133 mm. 

136 mm. 





180 mm. 

137 mm. 

147 mm. 





Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

The skeletons were too much decomposed to permit the dis- 
tinguishing of the sexes of the individuals to whom they bo- 
longed; but the size of the crania (adults) and other hones seem 
to indicate that a portion of the skeletons were those of women. 
One small cranium found was evidently that of a child — the 
second and third pairs of incisor teeth appearing beyond the 

Mound No. 2 . — Located 1% miles east of Hallsville, Duplin 
County, on a somewhat elevated, dry, sandy region. Base of 
mound nearly circular, 22 feet in diameter; height, 3 feet, sur- 
face rounded over the top. Soil similar to that which surrounds 
the mound — light sandy. Excavations of one-half of the mound 
exposed portions of eight skeletons, fragments of charcoal and 
pottery, arranged in much the same way as described above in 
case of Mound No. 1. The bones being badly decomposed, and 
the mound being thoroughly penetrated by the roots of trees 
growing over it, the excavation was stopped. No implements or 
weapons of any kind were found. There was no evidence of 
any excavation having been made below the general surface, in 
the building of the mound, but rather evidence to the contrary. 
The third cranium (C) of the above table was taken from this 

Mound No. 3 . — Located in a dry, sandy, and rather elevated 
place about one-third of a mile east of Hallsville, Duplin 
County. In size and shape this mound resembles those already 
mentioned: Base circular, 31 feet in diameter; height 2% 

feet. No excavation was made other than what was sufficient 
to ascertain that the mound contained bones of human skeletons. 

Mound No. Jf . — Duplin County, located in a rather level 
sandy region, about one mile from Sarecta post office, on the 
property of Branch Williams. Base of mound circular, 35 feet 
in diameter ; height 2% feet. Soil sandy, like that which sur- 
rounds it. Around the mound, extending out for a distance 
varying from 5 to 10 yards, there was a depression, which, in 
addition to the similarity of soils mentioned above, affords 
ground for the conjecture that here, as in a number of other 
cases, it is probable the mound was built by the throwing on of 
soil from its immediate vicinity. Only a partial excavation 
was made, with the result of finding human bones, and a few 
small fragments of charcoal and pottery. 

Since the above mounds were visited, I have obtained in- 
formation as to the localities of mounds, similar to those de- 

Exploration and Settlement 


scribed in the eastern, southern, and western portions of Duplin 
County; and I can hardly doubt but that a closer examination 
of this region will prove them to be more numerous than they 
are now generally supposed to be. 

In Sampson County, the localities of several mounds have 
been noted ; only one of these, however, so far as I am informed, 
has been examined with care. This one (Mound Ho. 5), ex- 
amined by Messrs. Phillips and Murphy of the Clinton School, 
is located about 2 miles west of Clinton (Sampson County), 
on the eastern exposure of a small hill. In general character 
it resembles the mounds already described. Base circular, 40 
feet in diameter; height 3% feet; soil sandy loam, resembling 
that surrounding the mound. Contents consisted of small frag- 
ments of charcoal, two bunches of small shell “beads,” and parts 
of 16 human skeletons. These skeletons were not distributed 
uniformly throughout the portion of the mound examined. At 
one place there were 9, at another 6, and at a third 5 skeletons, 
lying close to, and in some cases on top of, one another. In this 
point as in the position of the parts of the skeletons (“doubled- 
up”) this mound resembles those described above. The bones 
were generally soft from decay. The small shells were found 
in bunches under two skulls; they are of the same kind ( Mar - 
ginella roscida, Redfield) as those from Mound Ho. 1, and their 
ends were ground off in the same way. Ho bones were found 
below the surface level, and there was no evidence of excava- 
tions having been made below this point. Ho stone implements 
of any kind were found in the mound. One-half of this mound 
was examined. 

In Robeson and Cumberland Counties several mounds have 
been examined; and for information concerning these, I am 
indebted to Mr. Hamilton McMillan. 

Pive mounds are reported as having been examined in Robe- 
son County, averaging 60 feet in circumference, and 2 feet 
high, all located on elevated, dry ridges, near swamps or water- 
courses ; and all contained bones of human skeletons. One of 
these mounds, located about two miles east of Red Springs, 
examined by Mr. McMillan in 1882, contained about 50 skele- 
tons. Many of these bones near the surface of the mound, in 
Mr. McMillan’s opinion, had been partly burned — those nearer 
the bottom were in a better state of preservation. There was an 
“entire absence of skulls and teeth” from this mound — a some- 
what remarkable fact. A broken stone “celt” was found among 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

the remains ; but with this one unimportant exception, no men- 
tion has been made of implements having been found. 

In addition to the above, Mr. D. Sinclair, of Plain View, 
Robeson County, has informed me that he has seen four mounds 
in the southern portion of this county — two near Brooklyn post 
office, and two between Leesville and F air Bluff, about five miles 
from the latter place. 

In Cumberland County, two mounds are reported by Mr. 
McMillan as having been examined. One of these, located 
about ten miles south of Fayetteville, was found to contain the 
crumbled bones of a single person, lying in an east and west 
direction. There was also found in this mound a fragment of 
rock rich in silver ore. The other mound, located ten miles 
southwest from F ayetteville, near Bockfish Creek, was examined 
by Mr. McMillan in 1860, and found to contain a large number 
of skeletons, * * * bones were well preserved and, without 
exception, those of adults. The mound was located on a high, 
sandy ridge, its base about 20 feet in diameter ; height 2% feet. 

In Wake County one mound has been reported as being located 
on the northeast and several on the southwest side of the Reuse 
River, about seven miles east from Raleigh ; and from the former 
it is stated that a large number of stone implements have been 
removed. But I have been unable to examine these or to obtain 
any definite information concerning them. One mound in this 
county, examined in 1882 by Mr. W. S. Primrose, of Raleigh, is 
worthy of mention in this connection, as it resembles in general 
character the mounds of Duplin County. This mound is located 
about ten miles south of Raleigh, on a small plateau covered 
with an original growth of pines. Base of mound circular, 
about 14 feet in diameter; height 2 feet. The contents of the 
mound consisted of small fragments of charcoal, and the bones 
of 10 or 12 human skeletons, much decayed, and arranged, so 
far as could he determined, without any reference to order or 
regularity. No weapons or implements of any kind were found. 

Indians of the Lower Cape Fear. 

By S. A. Ashe. 

The Indians along the Pamlico and Albemarle were of North- 
ern origin; those on the Cape Fear were of Southern origin. 
The Yamassees, who originally lived along the coast east of 
Savannah, were driven back into Georgia soon after the settle- 

Exploration and Settlement 


ment. The Indians dwelling on the Santee, the Pee Dee, and 
their branches, seem to have been different from the Yamassees, 
and offshoots from one tribe or nation — the Old Cheraws. There 
was an Indian tradition that before the coming of the English- 
men the principal body of that tribe, called Cher aw- (or Chero-) 
kees, after a long fight with the Catawbas, removed to the moun- 
tains ; but the minor offshoots, along the rivers of South Caro- 
lina, were not disturbed. 

When the Cape Fear Indians were at war with the settlers at 
Old Town, the Indians along the southern Carolina coast knew 
of it, but did not take up arms against the English, and were 
very friendly with those who, along with Sandford, visited them 
in 1665. The Indians on the lower Cape Fear are said to have 
been Congarees, a branch of the Old Cheraws. Soon after the 
settlement, they were driven away. In 1731, Dr. Brickell, who 
made an extended journey to the western part of North Caro- 
lina in an embassy to the Indians in the mountains, in his Natu- 
ral History of North Carolina , said: “The Saponas live on the 
west branch of the Cape Fear River; the Toteras are neighbors 
to them: the Keyawees live on a branch that lies to the north- 

Two or three years later, Governor Burrington mentioned 
that the small tribes that had resided near the settlements had 
entirely disappeared; and in 1733, he also mentioned the fact 
that “some South Carolina grants had been located on the north 
side of the Waccamaw River, on lands formerly occupied by the 

The ending “ee” signifies, perhaps, “river.” It is surmised 
that the true name of Lumber River was Lumbee. Another 
termination was “aw” — Waxhaw, Saxapahaw, Cheraw, Bur- 
ghaw. The Burghaw Indians occupied what we call Burgaw 7 . 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 


(Lawson’s History of North Carolina, page 113.) 

From Tuesday, the 29th of September, to Friday, the 2d of 
October, we ranged along the shore from lat. 32 deg. 20 min. to 
lat. 33 deg. 11 min., but could discern no entrance for our ship 
after we had passed to the northward of 32 deg. 40 min. On 
Saturday, October 3, a violent storm overtook us, the wind being 
north and east ; which easterly winds and foul weather continued 
till Monday, the 12th; by reason of which storms and foul 
weather we were forced to get off to sea, to secure ourselves and 
ship, and were driven by the rapidity of a strong current to 
Cape Hatteras, in lat. 35 deg. 30 min. On Monday, the 12th, 
aforesaid, we came to an anchor in seven fathoms at Cape Fair 
Road, and took the meridian altitude of the sun, and were in 
lat. 33 deg. 43 min., the wind still continuing easterly, and foul 
weather till Thursday, the 15th; and on Friday, the 16th, the 
wind being N.W., we weighed and sailed up Cape Fair River 
some four or five leagues, and came to an anchor in six or seven 
fathom, at which time several Indians came on board and 
brought us great store of fresh fish, large mullets, young bass, 
shads, and several other sorts of very good, well-tasted fish. On 
Saturday, the 11th, we went down to the Cape to see the English 
cattle, but could not find them, though we rounded the Cape, 
and having an Indian guide with us. Here we rode till October 
24th. ’ The wind being against us, we could not go up the river 
with our ship ; but went on shore and viewed the land of those 

On Saturday we weighed and sailed up the river some four 
leagues or thereabouts. 

Sunday, the 25th, we weighed again and rowed up the river, 
it being calm, and got up some fourteen leagues from the har- 
bor’s mouth, where we moored our ship. 

On Monday, October 26th, we went down with the yawl to 
Necoes, an Indian plantation, and viewed the land there. 

On Tuesday, the 21th, we rowed up the main river with our 
longboat and twelve men, some ten leagues or thereabouts. 

On Wednesday, the 28th, we rowed up about eight or ten 
leagues more. 

Thursday, the 29th, was foul weather, with much rain and 
wind, which forced us to make huts and lie still. 

Exploration and Settlement 


Friday, the 30th, we proceeded up the main river seven or 
eight leagues. 

Saturday, the 31st, we got up three or four leagues more, and 
came to a tree that lay across the river; but because our provi- 
sions were almost spent, we proceeded no further, but returned 
downward before night ; and on Monday, the 2d of November, 
we came aboard our ship. 

Tuesday, the 3d, we lay still to refresh ourselves. 

On Wednesday, the 4th, we went five or six leagues up the 
river to search a branch that run out of the main river toward 
the northwest. In which we went up five or six leagues; but 
not liking the land, returned on board that night about mid- 
night, and called that place Swampy Branch. 

Thursday, November 5th, we stayed aboard. 

On Friday, the 6th, we went up Green’s Biver, the mouth of 
it being against the place at which rode our ship. 

On Saturday, the 7th, we proceeded up the said river, some 
fourteen or fifteen leagues in all, and found it ended in several 
small branches. The land, for the most part, being marshy and 
swamps, we returned towards our ship, and got aboard it in the 

Sunday, November the 8th, we lay still ; and on Monday the 
9 th, went again up the main river, being well stocked with pro- 
visions and all things necessary, and proceeded upward till 
Thursday noon, the 12th, at which time we came to a place 
where were two islands in the middle of the river ; and by rea- 
son of the crookedness of the river at that place, several trees lay 
across both branches, which stopped the passage of each branch, 
so that we could proceed no further with our boat ; but went up 
the river by land some three or four miles, and found the river 
wider and wider. So we returned, leaving it as far as we could 
see up, a long reach running N.E., we judging ourselves near 
fifty leagues north from the river’s mouth. 


We saw mulberry trees, multitudes of grapevines, and some 
grapes, which we eat of. We found a very large and good tract 
of land on the N.W. side of the river, thin of timber, except 
here and there a very great oak, and full of grass, commonly as 
high as a man’s middle and in many places to his shoulders, 
where we saw many deer and turkeys ; one deer having very 
large horns and great body, therefore called it Stag Park. 

It being a very pleasant and delightful place, we traveled in 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

it several miles, but saw no end thereof. So we returned to our 
boat and proceeded down the river and came to another place, 
some twenty-five leagues from the river’s mouth on the same 
side, where we found a place no less delightful than the former ; 
and, as far as we could judge, both tracts came into one. This 
lower place we called Rocky Point, because we found many 
rocks and stones of several sizes upon the land, which is not 
common. We sent our boat down the river before us, ourselves 
traveling by land many miles. Indeed we were so much taken 
with the pleasantness of the country, that we traveled into the 
woods too far to recover our boat and company that night. 

The next day, being Sunday, we got to our boat; and on 
Monday, the 16th of November, proceeded down to a place on 
the east side of the river, some twenty-three leagues from the 
harbour’s mouth, which we called Turkey Quarters, because we 
killed several turkeys thereabouts. We viewed the land there 
and found some tracts of good ground, and high, facing upon 
the river about one mile inward ; but backward, some two miles, 
all pine land, but good pasture ground. 

We returned to our boat and proceeded down some two or 
three leagues, where we had formerly viewed, and found it a 
tract of as good land as any we have seen, and had as good tim- 
ber on it. The banks of the river being high, therefore we 
called it High Land Point. 

Having viewed that, we proceeded down the river, going on 
shore in several places on both sides, it being generally large 
marshes, and many of them dry, that they may more fitly be 
called meadows. The woodland against them is, for the most 
part, pine, and in some places as barren as ever we saw land, 
but in other places good pasture ground. 

On Tuesday, November the 17th, we got aboard our ship, 
riding against the mouth of Green’s River, where our men were 
providing wood, and fitting the ship for sea. In the interim 
we took a view of the country on both sides of the river there, 
finding some good land, but more bad, and the best not com- 
parable to that above. 

Priday, the 20th, was foul weather ; yet in the afternoon we 
weighed, went down the river about two leagues, and came to 
an anchor against the mouth of Hilton’s River, and took a view 
of the land there on both sides, which appeared to us much like 
that at Green’s River. 

Monday, the 23d, we went with our longboat, well victualed 

Exploration and Settlement 


and manned, np Hilton’s River ; and when we came three leagues 
or thereabouts up the same, we found this and Green’s River to 
come into one, and so continued for four or five leagues, which 
makes a great island betwixt them. We proceeded still up the 
river till they parted again; keeping up Hilton’s River, on the 
larboard side, and followed the said river five or six leagues 
further, where we found another large branch of Green’s River 
to come into Hilton’s, which makes another great island. On 
the starboard side going up, we proceeded still up the river, 
some four leagues, and returned, taking a view of the land on 
both sides, and then judged ourselves to he from our ship some 
eighteen leagues W. by N. 

****** - 55 - 

Proceeding down the river two or three leagues further, we 
came to a place where there were nine or ten canoes all together. 
We went ashore there and found several Indians, but most of 
them were the same which had made peace with us before. We 
stayed very little at that place but went directly down the river, 
and came to our ship before day. 

Thursday, the 26th of November, the wind being at south, we 
could not go down to the river’s mouth; but on Friday the 27th 
we weighed at the mouth of Hilton’s River, and got down a 
league towards the harbor’s mouth. 

On Sunday, the 29th, we got down to Crane Island, which is 
four leagues, or thereabouts, above the entrance of the harbor’s 
mouth. On Tuesday, the 1st of December, we made a purchase 
of the river and land of Cape Fair of Wat Coosa, and such other 
Indians as appeared to us to be the chief of those parts. They 
brought us store of fresh fish aboard, as mullets, shads, and 
other sorts, very good. 

There was a writing left in a post, at the point of Cape Fair 
River, by those New England men that left cattle with the 
Indians there, the contents whereof tended not only to the dis- 
paragement of the land about the said river, but also to the great 
discouragement of all such as should hereafter come into those 
parts to settle. In answer to that scandalous writing, we, whose 
names are underwritten, do affirm, that we have seen, facing both 
sides of the river and branches of Cape Fair aforesaid, as good 
land and as well timbered as any we have seen in any other part 
of the world, sufficient to accommodate thousands of our Eng- 
lish nation, and lying commodiously by the said river’s side. 
On Friday, the 4th of December, the wind being fair, we put to 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

sea, bound for Barbadoes; and on the 6th of February, 1663-4, 
came to an anchor in Carlisle Bay — it having pleased God, after 
several apparent dangers both by sea and land, to bring us all in 
safety to our long-wished-for and much-desired port, to render 
an account of our discovery, the verity of which we do assert. 

Anthony Long. 

William Hilton. 

Petek Fabian. 


The first trading on the Cape Fear River of which we have 
any record was by a party of adventurers from Massachusetts 
in the year 1660. 

The historian Bryant says: “There were probably few bays 
or rivers along the coast, from the Bay of Fundy to Florida, 
unexplored by the New Englanders, where there was any prom- 
ise of profitable trade with the Indians. The colonist followed 
the trader wherever unclaimed lands were open to occupation. 
These energetic pioneers explored the sounds and rivers south 
of Virginia in pursuit of Indian traffic, and contrasted the 
salubrity of the climate and the fertility of the soil with that 
region of rocks where they made their homes, and where winter 
reigns for more than half the year. In 1660 or 1661, a com- 
pany of these men purchased of the natives and settled upon a 
tract of land at the mouth of the Cape Fear River. Their first 
purpose was apparently the raising of stock, as the country 
seemed peculiarly fitted to grazing, and they brought a number 
of neat cattle and swine to be allowed to feed at large under the 
care of herdsmen. But they aimed at something more than this 
nomadic occupation, and a company was formed in which a 
number of adventurers in London were enlisted, to found a 
permanent colony.” 

The most authentic account of the first settlement on the river 
states that about the time the New Englanders explored that 
region, John Vassall and others at Barbadoes, purposing to make 
a settlement on the coast of Virginia, sent out Capt. William 
Hilton in his ship, the Adventurer , to explore the coast ; and he 
made a favorable report of the Cape Fear. Soon afterwards, the 
New England colonists arrived, but, learning of Hilton’s visit, 

Exploration and Settlement 


thought it best not to make a settlement at that time; so they 
turned loose their cattle on the island and left a paper in a box 
stating that it was a bad place for a settlement. Vassall now 
again sent Hilton and with him Anthony Long and Peter 
Fabian to make a more thorough examination. 

On Monday, October 12, 1663, the Adventurer came to anchor 
a second time in what they called “The Cape Fair Roads,” and 
then the explorers proceeded to examine the lands along the 
river. Their “main river” was our Northeast. They called the 
Northwest branch, the Hilton, and the “Cut-off,” the Green. 
They ascended both branches about seventy-five miles and were 
much pleased. Along the main river, they named Turkey Quar- 
ter, Rocky Point, and Stag Park, names that have been perpetu- 
ated to this day. 

While these explorations were being made, the King granted 
the whole country south of Virginia to the Lords Proprietors, 
and the promoters of the proposed colony, both in New England 
and in Barbadoes, applied to the Lords Proprietors for terms of 
settlement. These gentlemen sought to foster the enterprise, and 
in compliment to the King named the river, the Charles, and the 
town to be built, Charlestown, and the region they called Clar- 
endon County. Eventually, the New England Association, John 
Vassall and his friends at Barbadoes, and Henry Vassall and the 
other London merchants who were to supply the colony, were all 
brought into a common enterprise; and on May 24, 1664, the 
first settlers disembarked at the junction of the river and Town 
Creek, about twenty miles from the bar. These were followed 
by accessions from New England and Barbadoes until the num- 
ber of colonists reached six hundred. John Vassall was ap- 
pointed the surveyor and was the chief man in the colony, being 
the leading promoter of the enterprise, while Henry Vassall 
managed affairs at London. The Proprietors, however, selected 
as governor the man they thought of greatest influence at Bar- 
badoes, Col. John Yeamans; and the King, to show his favor 
to the colony, conferred on Yeamans the honor of knighthood. 
He also made a gift to the colony of cannon and munitions for 
defense. In November, 1665, Sir John reached the colony, and 
shortly thereafter the first assembly on the Cape Fear was held. 
There was already a war with the Indians, arising, according to 
some accounts, from the bad faith of the Massachusetts men who 
had sold into slavery some Indian children, as well as the adult 
Indians they were able to take prisoners. There was also dis- 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

satisfaction with the regulations of the Proprietors, and espe- 
cially because the colonists were not allowed to elect their own 
governor, as the people of Massachusetts did. Sir John soon 
left the colony and returned to Barbadoes ; and as some of the 
Proprietors had died, and, England being at war with Holland, 
the others were too busy to attend to the affairs of the infant 
colony, for more than a year Vassall’s appeals to the Proprietors 
received no answer. The settlers becoming disheartened, Vas- 
sall did all he could to satisfy them, but they felt cut off and 
abandoned. After they had found a way to reach Albemarle and 
Virginia by land, he could no longer hold them. On October 6, 
1667, Vassall wrote from Nansemond, Virginia, a touching 
account of the failure of the colony. 

After the departure of the colonists from Charlestown in 
1667, Clarendon County again became a solitude. A few years 
later a new Charlestown was begun farther south, and in the 
management of this new settlement Sir John Yeamans proved 
himself a wise and efficient governor and a meritorious and 
beneficent administrator. After his death the settlement was 
removed to the junction of the Ashley and Cooper Rivers, where 
it flourished and endured. 


(Colonial Records, Vol. I, page 119.) 

The Right Honohle the Lords Proprietors of the Province of 
Carolina in prosecucion of his sacred Ma ties pious intencons of 
planting and civillizing there his domin' 3 and people of North- 
erne America, w ch Neighbour Southward on Virginia (by some 
called Florida (found out and discovered by S r Sebastian Cabott 
in the year 1497 at the charges of H : 7 : King of England co) 
Constituted S r . John Yeamans Baronet their JC Generali with 
ample powers for placing a Colony in some of the Rivers to the 
Southward and Westward of Cape S 1 Romania who departing 
from the Island Barbadoes in Octob: 1665 in a Ely boate of 
about 150 Tonns accompanyed by a small Friggatt of his owne 
and a Sloope purchased by a Comon purse for the service of the 
Colonyes after they had been separated by a great storme att 
Sea (wherein the Friggatt lost all her Mast and himself e had 
like to have foundred and were all brought together againe in 

Exploration and Settlement 


the beginning of November to an Anchor before the month of 
Charles River neere Cape Feare in the County of Clarendon, 
part of the same Province newly begunn to be peopled and within 
the L* Gen lls Commission. They were after blowne from their 
Anchors by a suddaine violent Gust, the Fly boate S r John was 
in narrowly escapeing the dangerous shoales of the Cape. But 
this proved but a short difference in their Fate, for returning 
with a favorable winde to a second viewe of the entrance into 
Charles River but destituted of all pilates (save their owne eyes 
(which the flattering Gale that conducted them did alsoe delude 
by covering the rough visage of their objected dangers with a 
thicke vaile of smoth waters) they stranded their vessell on the 
middle ground of the harbours mouth to the Westward of the 
Channel! where the Ebbe presently left her and the wind with 
its owne multeplyed forces and the auxiliaryes of the tide of 
flood beate her to peeces. The persons were all saved by the 
neighborhood of the shore but the greatest part of their provision 
of victualls clothes, &c : and of the Magazine of Armes powder 
and other Military furniture shipped by the Lords Proprietors 
for the defence of the designed settlement perished in the waters 
the L* Gen 11 purposed at first imediately to repaire his Friggatt 
(which together with the Sloop gate safely into the River when 
the’ Fly boate was driven off) and to send her back to Barbados 
for recruity whilst himself in person attended the issue of that 
discovery which I and some other Gentlemen offered to make 
Southwards in the Sloope, But when the great and growing 
necessityes of the English Colony in Charles River (heightened 
by this disaster) begann clamorously to crave the use of the 
Sloope in a voyage to Virginia for their speedy relief e, S r John 
altered that his first resolution and permitting the sloope to goe 
to Virginia returned himself to Barbadoes in his Friggatt. Yett 
that the designe of the Southern Settlement might not wholy 
fall, Hee considered with the freighters of the sloope that in case 
she miscarryed in her Virginia voyage they should hire Captain 
Edward Stanyons vessell (then in there harbour but bound for 
Barbados) to performe the Discovery and left a commission 
with mee for the effecting it upon the returne of the Sloope or 
Stanion which should first happen. 

The sloope in her comeing home from Virginia loaded with 
victualls being ready by reason of her extreme rottenness in her 
timbers to Sinke was driven on shoare by a storme in the night 
on Cape looke out (the next head land to the north and Eastward 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

of Cape Feare and about 20 Le: distant her men all saved ex- 
cept two and with many difficulties brought by their boate 
through the great Sound into Albemarle River neare the Island 
Roanoke (within this same province of Carolina, to the English 
Plantation there — 

Captain Stanyon in returning from Barbados weakly maned 
and without any second to himselfe driven to and agen on the 
seas for many weekes by contrary winds and conquered with 
care, vexation and watching lost his reason, and after many 
wild extravagances leapt over board in a frenzye, leaveing his 
small Company and vessell to the much more quiet and constant 
though but little knowing and prudent conduct of a child, who 
yett ’assisted by a miraculous providence after many wander- 
ings brought her safe to Charles River in Clarendon her de- 
sired port and haven. * * * 

[Then Sandford gives an account of his voyage along the 
coast of southern Carolina, the following extract being of 

Indeed all along I observed a kind of emulation amongst the 
three principall Indians of the Country (vizt:) those of Key- 
waha Eddistowe and Port Royall concerning us and our Friend- 
shipp each contending to assure it to themselves and jealous of 
the other though all be allyed and this notwithstanding that they 
knew wee were in actuall warre with the natives att Claren- 
don and had killed and sent away many of them For they fre- 
quently discoursed with us concerning the warre, told us that 
the Natives were noughts, the land sandy and barren, their 
Country sickly, but if wee would come amongst them wee should 
finde the contrary to all their evills, and never any occasion of 
dischargeing our gunns but in merryment and for pastime. 

Robt : Sandford. 

Massachusetts Sends Some Relief. 

(Hutchinson’s History of Massachusetts, page 238.) 

In 1667, the people at Cape Fear being under distressing cir- 
cumstances, a general contribution by order of court was made 
throughout the colony for their relief. Although this was a col- 
ony subject to the Proprietary Government of Lord Clarendon 
and others, yet the foundation was laid about the time of the 
Restoration by adventurers from New England, who supposed 

Exploration and Settlement 


they had a right to the soil as first occupants and purchasers 
from the natives, and, issuing from Massachusetts, to the same 
civil privileges; but they were disappointed as to both. 



John Vassall to Sir John Colleton. 

(B. P. R. O., Shaftesbury Papers, Bdle. 48, No. 8.) 

Nancymond in V irgtnny 6th October 1667. 
Honnorable Sir, 

I presume you have heard of the unhapy Loss of our Planta- 
tion on Charles River the reason of which I could never soe well 
have understood had I not com hither to heare; how that all 
that came from us made it their business soe to exclaime against 
the Country as they had rendered it unfitt for a Christian habi- 
tation; which hindered the coming of the people & supplys to 
us soe as the rude Rable of our Inhabitants ware dayly redy to 
mutany against mee for keeping them there soe long ; insomuch 
that after they had found a way to com hither by land all the 
arguments and authority I could use wold noe longer prevail 
which inforced mee to stop the first ship that came till I could 
send for more shipping to carry us all away togeather espetially 
such weak persons as ware not able to goe by land the charge 
and trouble whereof and the loss of my Estate there having soe 
ruened mee as I am not well able to settle myself heare or in any 
other place to live comfortably. But had it pleased God to 
bring my Cauzen Vassall safe hither wee had bin yett in a 
flourishing condition. I sent one Whiticar last November on 
purpose at my owne charge to give the Lords an account of our 
condition but hee was taken by the way soe as I have not heard 
a word from any of you since I receaved my Commissions by 
Mr. Sandford and indeed we ware as a poore Company of de- 
serted people little regarded by any others and noe way able to 
supply ourselves with clothing and necessaries nor any number 
considerable to defend ourselves from the Indians all which was 
occationed by the hard termes of your Consetions which made 
our friends that sett us out from Barbadoes to forsake us, soe 
as they would neither suply us with necessaries nor find ship- 
ping to fetch us away, yet had wee had but 20 0£ sent us in 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Clothing wee had made a comfortable shift for annother yeare, 
and I offered to stay there if but twenty men would stay with 
mee till wee had heard from your Lordships, for wee had corne 
enough for two yeares for a farr greater number and tho’ the 
Indians had killed our Cattle yett wee might have defended our- 
selves hut I could not find 6. men that wold be true to me to 
stay: soe was constrained to leave it to my greate loss & ruin, 
and I fear you will not have a much better account of your 
plantation at Roanoke unless a better course be taken to incorage 
their stay for they are not without greate cause of complaints. 

This with my very humble servis presented is all at present 
From Your honnors humble servant 

John Vassall 

To the Honorable Sir John Coliton 
Knight and Barronett at Kerehald 
These present 
In Essex. 

Samuel Mavericke to Sec. L d Arlington. 

(B. P. R. O., Shaftesbury Papers, Vol. XXI, 134.) 

The plantations at Cape Feare are deserted, the inhabitants 
have since come hither, some to Virginia. 

Yo r most obliged 

humble Servant 

Boston Samuell Mavericke 

Oct. 16, 1667. 


There was a wide breadth of wilderness between the settle- 
ments in Horth and South Carolina, and before 1725 it was not 
determined to which province the Cape Fear River belonged. 
About 1692 Landgrave Smith located a grant of 48,000 acres 
on that river, and other South Carolina grants were located near 
the confluence of its two branches ; hut there was no permanent 
settlement made. One Lockwood, from Barhadoes, however, 
made a settlement farther to the south, which the Indians de- 
stroyed, and hence the name to this day of “Lockwood’s Folly.” 
The solitude remained unbroken until in 1719, when Steed 
Bonnet, an infamous pirate, established himself within the har- 

Exploration and Settlement 


bor and made such depredations on the commerce of Charleston 
that Colonel Rhett organized an expedition against him. A 
notable battle took place near where Southport now stands, end- 
ing in the destruction of Bonnet’s vessel and the capture of 
many of the pirates. Two days later other pirate vessels were 
taken at sea, and more than a hundred pirates were hanged 
at one time on the wharves of Charleston. It is supposed that 
some of Bonnet’s men escaped and made their way up the river, 
eventually amalgamating with a small tribe of Indians on the 
Lumber River, where, soon after the permanent settlement of 
the Cape Fear, in 1725, a considerable number of English- 
speaking people were found. 

Permanent Settlement 


On the 24th of January, 1712, was commissioned the first 
governor of the province of North Carolina, separate and dis- 
tinct from the province of South Carolina. 

In the year 1711 a horrible massacre of the colonists in Albe- 
marle occurred, which was characterized by such fiendish 
cruelty on the part of the Indians, led principally by Tusca- 
roras, that the colony on the Neuse and Pamlico was blighted 
for years and well-nigh destroyed. One hundred and thirty 
persons were butchered in two hours under the most appalling 
circumstances. Women were laid upon the house floors and 
great stakes driven through their bodies; other atrocities were 
committed too frightful to think of, and more than eighty un- 
baptized infants were dashed to pieces against trees. Although 
it appears that there were occasional difficulties with the In- 
dians during the early settlements, this seems to have been the 
first general uprising in the province. It led to the Tuscarora 
War, which would probably have exterminated the white peo- 
ple in North Carolina but for the timely and generous assist- 
ance of South Carolina, which voted £4,000 sterling, and dis- 
patched troops immediately to Albemarle without so much as 
asking for security or promise to pay. It is this war which 
leads us to the introduction of Col. James Moore, son of Gov. 
James Moore, of South Carolina, who came from South Caro- 
lina with a second force of troops to the help of our colonists, 
and by his active and efficient campaign made short work of the 
Tuscaroras and restored peace to our sorely troubled people. 

Meanwhile, a third army had come from South Carolina 
under Maj. Maurice Moore, a younger brother of Col. James 
Moore, who after peace remained in Albemarle. The next year 
the people of South Carolina were themselves in danger of ex- 
termination because of a most terrible Indian war, and Maj. 
Maurice Moore was dispatched with a force to their relief. He 
marched along the coast, crossing the Cape Tear near Sugar 
Loaf, and was so well pleased with the river lands that he con- 
ceived the idea of settling them. The Lords Proprietors, how- 
ever, had prohibited the making of any settlement within twenty 
[ 38 ] 

Permanent Settlement 


miles of that river, and it was some time before he conld carry 
out his plan. Finally, in 1725, he and his kindred and friends 
in Albemarle and South Carolina joined in settling the Cape 
Fear country. His brother, Roger Moore, came with his hun- 
dreds of slaves and built Orton, while Maurice Moore selected a 
most admirable site on a bluff near Orton, fifteen miles below 
the present city of Wilmington, and laid out a town which he 
called Brunswick, in honor of the reigning family. Brunswick 
quickly prospered, for a steady stream of population flowed in, 
and the trade of the river grew rapidly. In 1731 Dr. Brickell 
wrote in his Natural History of North Carolina , “Brunswick 
has a great trade, a number of merchants and rich planters.” 
At that early period forty-two vessels, carrying valuable 
cargoes, sailed from the port in one year. 

I have before me the original book of entries and clearances 
of His Britannic Majesty’s custom house at the port of Bruns- 
wick, in the province of Forth Carolina, beginning with A. D. 
1773, in the reign of George III., and running for three years. 
It is strongly hound in leather, somewhat injured by abuse for 
other purposes during Revolutionary times, but it contains in 
fine, legible handwriting, wonderfully well preserved, a record 
of over three hundred vessels, with the particulars of their car- 
goes and crews. Among the names of the trading vessels, some 
of which are remarkable, are the brig Orton , the brig Wilming- 
ton, and the schooner Rake's Delight. 

Some of the cargoes are significant ; 20 negroes, 50 hogsheads 
of rum, 1,000 bags of salt, etc. The outward cargoes to ports 
in the provinces, to the West Indies, and to London, Bristol, 
and other distant destinations, were mostly lumber, staves, tar, 
indigo, rice, corn, wheat, and tobacco. 

The full-rigged ship Ulysses , Captain Wilson, brought from 
Glasgow, Scotland, October 18, 1773, to Brunswick, furniture, 
leather, saddles, earthenware, shoes, linen, hats, gunpowder, 
silks, glass, iron, lead, and “shott,” also port wine, rugs, toys, 
and household articles. 

Other Scotch brigs, notably the Baliol, brought many settlers 
to the Cape Fear, most of whom went farther up to Cross Creek, 
now Fayetteville. Among these was the distinguished lady, 
Flora Macdonald. 

There are no available records of trade and commerce per- 
taining to Brunswick or to the new settlement at Wilmington. 
It appears, however, that many of the plantations established 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

sawmills, from which lumber, along with the products of the 
farms, was shipped in plantation brigs and schooners to distant 
ports. At Orton a large sawmill was run by water power, and 
vessels were loaded in the river opposite the mill with lumber, 
rice, and indigo. 

In its early years Brunswick was in Carteret Precinct, for 
when Carteret Precinct, as the counties were formerly called, 
was established in 1722, it ran down the coast to the unknown 
confines of North Carolina, and back into the wilderness with- 
out limitation. 

So the settlement at Brunswick, in 1725, was in Carteret, 
until New Hanover Precinct was established; and then it was 
in New Hanover, which at first embraced the territory now 
in Duplin, Sampson, Bladen, and Brunswick Counties. It was 
not until shortly before the Devolution that Brunswick was cut 
off from New Hanover. 

As the Cape Fear region was originally in Carteret Precinct, 
some of the early grants and deeds for lands in New Hanover 
and Brunswick were registered at Beaufort, the county seat of 


(Georgia Historical Papers, Vol. II, page 54.) 

I intend after my return to Charleston to take a journey, by 
land, to Cape Fear in North Carolina, which I have heard so 
much talk of. * * * 

I set out from Charleston on the 10th of June, on my 
travels to Cape Fear, in North Carolina, in company with thir- 
teen more, and the first night reached Mr. More’s, in Goose 
Creek. * * * 

The next morning, just as we were setting out from thence, 
our tired horses came in, when we ordered them to he left there 
till further orders ; we left the hoys behind to come after us as 
well as they could. We reached Little Charlotta by dinner 
time, which is about fifteen miles from Ash’s, or Little River; 
we dined there, and in the afternoon crossed the ferry, where 
we intended to sleep that night. We reached there about eight 
the same night, after having crossed the ferry. 

It [Lockwood’s Folly] is so named after one Lockwood, a 
Barbadian, who attempted to settle it some time ago ; but, by his 
cruel behavior to the Indians, they drove him from thence, and 

Permanent Settlement 


it has not been settled above ten years. We left Lockwood’s 
Folly about eight the next morning, and by two reached the 
town of Brunswick, which is the chief town in Cape F ear ; but 
with no more than two of the same horses which came with us 
out of South Carolina. We dined there that afternoon. Mr. 
Roger More hearing we were come, was so kind as to send fresh 
horses for us to come up to his house, which we did, and were 
kindly received by him; he being the chief gentleman in all 
Cape Fear. His house is built of brick, and exceedingly pleas- 
antly situated about two miles from the town, and about half 
a mile from the river ; though there is a creek comes close up to 
the door, between two beautiful meadows, about three miles 
length. He has a prospect of the town of Brunswick, and of 
another beautiful brick house, a building about half a mile from 
him, belonging to Eleazar Allen, Esq., late speaker to the Com- 
mons House of Assembly, in the province of South Carolina. 
There were several vessels lying about the town of Brunswick, 
but I shall forbear giving a description of that place; yet on 
the 20th of June we left Mr. Roger More’s, accompanied by his 
brother, Nathaniel More, Esq., to a plantation of his, up the 
Northwest branch of Cape Fear River. The river is wonder- 
fully pleasant, being, next to the Savannah, the finest on all the 

We reached The Forks, as they call it, that same night, where 
the river divides into two very beautiful branches, called the 
Northeast and the Northwest, passing by several pretty planta- 
tions on both sides. We lodged that night at one Mr. Jehu 
Davis’, and the next morning, proceeded up the Northwest 
branch; when we got about two miles from thence, we came to 
a beautiful plantation, belonging to Captain Gabriel, who is a 
great merchant there, where were two ships, two sloops, and a 
brigantine, loaded with lumber for the West Indies : it is about 
twenty-two miles from the bar ; when we came about four miles 
higher up, we saw an opening on the northeast side of us, which 
is called Black River, on which there is a great deal of good 
meadow land, hut there is not any one settled on it. 

The next night we came to another plantation belonging to 
Mr. Roger More, called the Blue Banks, where he is a-going to 
build another very large brick house. This bluff is at least a 
hundred feet high, and has a beautiful prospect over a fine large 
meadow, on the opposite side of the river; the houses are all 
built on the southwest side of the river, it being for the most 

4 2 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

part high champaign land: the other side is very much subject 
to overflow, hut I cannot learn they have lost hut one crop. I 
am credibly informed they have very commonly fourscore bush- 
els of corn on an acre of their overflowed land. It very rarely 
overflows hut in the wintertime, when their crop is ofl. I must 
confess I saw the finest corn growing there that I ever saw in 
my life, as likewise wheat and hemp. We lodged there that 
night at one Captain Gibbs 7 , adjoining to Mr. More’s plantation, 
where we met with very good entertainment. The next morning 
we left his house, and proceeded up the said river to a plantation 
belonging to Mr. John Davis, where we dined. The plantations 
on this river are very much alike as to the situation ; but there 
are many more improvements on some than on others ; this house 
is built after the Dutch fashion, and made to front both ways — 
on the river, and on the land. He has a beautiful avenue cut 
through the woods for above two miles, which is a great addition 
to the house. We left his house about two in the afternoon, and 
the same evening reached Mr. Nathaniel More’s plantation, 
which is reckoned forty miles from Brunswick. It is likewise 
a very pleasant place on a blufi upwards of sixty feet high. I 
forbore mentioning any thing either as to the goodness or the 
badness of the land in my passage from South Carolina, it be- 
ing, in short, nothing but a sandy bank from Winneaw ferry to 
Brunswick; and, indeed, the town itself is not much better at 
present : it is that which has given this place such a bad name on 
account of the land, it being the only road to South Carolina 
from the northern part of the continent, and as there are a great 
many travellers from New York, New England, &c., who go to 
Charleston, having been asked what sort of land they have in 
Cape Fear, have not stuck out to say that it is all a mere sand 
bank ; hut let those gentlemen take a view of the rivers, and they 
will soon be convinced to the contrary, as well as myself, who, 
must confess, till then was of their opinion, hut now am con- 
vinced by ocular demonstration, for I have not so much as seen 
one foot of had land since my leaving Brunswick. About three 
days after my arrival at Mr. More’s, there came a sloop of one 
hundred tons, and upwards, from South Carolina, to be laden 
with corn, which is sixty miles at least from the bar. I never 
yet heard of any man who was ever at the head of that river, but 
they tell me the higher you go up the better the land, and the 
river grows wider and wider. There are people settled at least 
forty miles higher up, hut indeed the tide does not flow, at the 

Permanent Settlement 


most, above twenty miles higher. Two days after, I was taken 
very ill of an ague and fever, which continued on me for near a 
month, in which time my companions left me, and returned to 
South Carolina. When I began to recover my health a little, 
I mentioned to Mr. More the great desire I had to see Wacca- 
maw Lake, as I had heard so much talk of it, and been myself 
a great way up the river ; that I was sure by the course of the 
country I could not be above twenty miles from thence. He 
told me he had a negro fellow, who he thought could carry me 
to it, and that he would accompany me himself, with some 
others of his acquaintance. On the 18th of July we set out 
from his house on horseback, with every one his gun, and took 
the negro with us. We rode about four miles on a direct course 
through an open pine barren, when we came to a large cane 
swamp, about half a mile through, which we crossed in about an 
hour’s time, but I was astonished to see the innumerable sight of 
musquetoes, and the largest that I ever saw in my life, for they 
made nothing to fetch blood of us through our buckskin gloves, 
coats, and jackets. As soon as we got through that swamp, we 
came to another open pine barren, where we saw a great herd 
of deer, the largest and fattest that ever I saw in those parts : 
we made shift to kill a brace of them, which we made a hearty 
dinner on. We rode about two miles farther, when we came to 
another cane swamp, where we shot a large she-bear and two 
cubs. It was so large that it was with great difficulty we got 
through it. When we got on the other side, it began to rain 
very hard, or otherwise, as far as I know, we might have shot 
ten brace of deer, for they were almost as thick, as in the parks 
in England, and did not seem to be in the least afraid of us, for 
I question much whether they had ever seen a man in their 
lives before, for they seemed to look on us as amazed. We made 
shift as well as we could to reach the lake the same night, but 
had but little pleasure ; it continued to rain very hard, we made 
a large fire of lightwood, and slept as well as we could that 
night. The next morning we took a particular view of it, and 
I think it is the pleasantest place that ever I saw in my life. 
It is at least eighteen miles round, surrounded with exceedingly 
good land, as oak of all sorts, hickory, and fine cypress swamps. 
There is an old Indian field to be seen, which shows it was for- 
merly inhabited by them, but I believe not within these fifty 
years, for there is scarce one of the Cape Fear Indians, or the 
Waccamaws, that can give any account of it. There is plenty of 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

deer, wild turkeys, geese, and ducks, and fish in abundance; we 
shot sufficient to serve forty men, though there were but six of 
us. We went almost round it, but there is on the northeast side 
a small cypress swamp, so deep that we could not go through it ; 
we returned back again on a direct line, being resolved to find 
how far it was on a straight course from the Northwest branch 
of Cape Fear River, which we found did not exceed ten miles. 

We returned back to Mr. More’s that same night, having 
satisfied our curiosity, and the next morning set out with an 
intent to take a view of the Northeast branch, on which there is 
a great deal of good land, but not in my opinion, for the gen- 
erality, so good as on the Northwest, hut I think the river is 
much more beautiful. We lay that first night at Newton, in a 
small hut, and the next day reached Rocky Point, which is the 
finest place in all Cape Fear. There are several very worthy 
gentlemen settled there, particularly Col. Maurice More, Cap- 
tain Herne, John Swan, Esq., and several others. We stayed 
there one night, and the next morning set out on horseback to 
take a view of the land backward, imagining that there might 
be only a skirt of good land on the river, but I am sure I rode 
for about twenty miles back, through nothing but black walnut, 
oak, and hickory; we returned the same night to Rocky Point, 
and the next morning set out for a plantation belonging to Mr. 
John Davis, within six miles of Brunswick, where I was a sec- 
ond time taken ill, so that I thought I should have died ; but by 
the providence of God, and the care of good Mrs. Davis, I 
recovered in a fortnight’s time, so that I was able to set out on 
my journey to South Carolina. I took leave of that worthy 
family on the 10th of August, when she was so kind as to force 
me to take a bottle of shrub, and several other things with me. 
I reached Mr. Roger More’s the same night, where I was again 
handsomely received, but being resolved to set out on my jour- 
ney the next morning, he generously offered me a horse to carry 
me to the house where I was obliged to leave mine on the road, 
as likewise a servant to attend me, which I refused. I left 
his house the next morning, being the 11th of August, at half 
an hour after seven, and reached Brunswick by eight. I set 
out from thence about nine, and about four miles from thence 
met my landlord of Lockwood’s Folly, who was in hopes I 

would stay at his house all night. 

* * * * * * * 

When I was about halfway over the bay, I intended to stop 

Permanent Settlement 


at the next spring and take a tiff of punch ; but by some unfor- 
tunate accident, I know not how, when I came within sight of 
the spring, my bottle unluckily broke, and I lost every drop of 
my shrub ; but examining my bags, I accidentally found a bottle 
of cherry brandy, with some ginger-bread and cheese, which I 
believe good Mrs. More ordered to be put up unknown to me. I 
drank two drams of that, not being willing it should all be lost 
in case it should break, and mounting my horse, took some 

ginger-bread and cheese in my hand and pursued my journey. 

I reached Witton’s by noon, and had my possum dressed for 
dinner. * * * I arrived at Charleston on the 7th [17th] 

day of August, where I remained till the 23d of November, 
when I set sail for England and arrived safe in London on the 
3d of January, 1734-5. 


In the cove near Governor Try on’s residence, still known as 
Governor’s Cove, were anchored in colonial times His Majesty’s 
sloops of war Viper, Diligence, Scorpion, and Cruizer ; and the 
frigate Rose, a prison ship, was anchored in the stream. This 
roadstead proved to be unsafe in stormy weather, and because of 
that fact and of the growth of a village fifteen miles farther up 
the river called New Liverpool, afterwards Newton, and lastly 
Wilmington, which absorbed the trade of the two branches of 
the river near that point and prospered, a gradual exodus from 
Brunswick began and continued; so that while Wilmington 
flourished and became the capital of the province, Brunswick 
dwindled and during the Revolutionary War was wholly aban- 

In 1731 John Maultsby took out a warrant for 640 acres of 
land opposite the “Thoroughfare,” and John Watson located a 
similar warrant adjoining and below that. In 1732 a few enter- 
prising men settled on Maultsby’s grant for trade, and called 
the place New Liverpool. The next spring Michael Higgins, 
Joshua Grainger, James Wimble, and John Watson joined in 
laying off a town on Watson’s entry, which they called Newton. 

Gov. Gabriel Johnston arrived in November, 1734, and he 
at once espoused the cause of Newton as against Brunswick, 
the older town. He bought land near Newton and led his 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

friends to do so. Determined to give it importance, lie ordered 
that the Council should meet there, and also that the courts 
should be held there instead of at Brunswick ; and, indeed, as a 
sort of advertisement, he made May 13, 1735, a gala day for 
the village. On that day he had the land office opened there, 
also the Court of Exchequer to meet there, as well as the New 
Hanover Court, and, likewise, the Council. Then he sought to 
have the village incorporated under the name of Wilmington. 
For a brief time the influence of Brunswick prevailed against 
him, but he finally succeeded. 

The Act of Incorporation, 1 passed in 1739 by the Assembly, 
is as follows : 

An Act, for erecting the village called Newton, in New Han- 
over County, into a town and township, by the name of Wil- 
mington; and regulating and ascertaining the hounds thereof. 

Section 1 . Whereas, several merchants, tradesmen, artifi- 
cers, and other persons of good substance, have settled them- 
selves at a village called Newton lying on the east branch of 
Cape Fear; and whereas, the said village by reason of its con- 
venient situation at the meeting of the two great branches of 
Cape Fear Biver, and likewise, by reason of the depth of water, 
capable of receiving vessels of considerable burthen, safety of its 
roads beyond any other part of the river, and the secure and 
easy access from all parts of the different branches of the said 
river, is, upon all those and many other accounts, more proper 
for being erected into a town or township, than any other part 
of the said river. 

Sec. 2. Be it therefore enacted by His Excellency Gabriel 
Johnston, Esq., Governor, by and with the advice and consent 
of His Majesty’s Council and General Assembly of this prov- 
ince, and it is hereby enacted, by the authority of the same, that 
the village heretofore called Newton, lying on the east side of 
the northeast branch of Cape Fear Biver, in New Hanover 
County, shall, from and after the passage of this Act, he a 
town and township, and the said village is hereby established 
a town and township by the name of Wilmington, the hounds 
whereof shall he and are circumscribed in manner following: 
That is to say, to the northeast, by the lands of His Excellency 
Gabriel Johnston, Esq.; upwards and below, by the lands of 
Michael Dyer ; to the westward by the northeast branch of Cape 
Fear Biver; and to the eastward, by a line drawn between the 

lSwann’s Collection Public Acts, North Carolina, 1739, Chapter IV. 
p. 99. 

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PLAN of the Town of WlLLMINGTON 
in New Hanover County 

North Carolina 


'.A, Church . B, Court House. C.Coal . D. TannYard. 
E, Still House. 

5 urveyd and Drawn in December 1769 ByCJ.Sauthier. 


Note - This is'dn ex act copy of K. /asm preserved in th e. L i hr ary . British Museum LondO/u 
__ Coded b/. Will i am Woodrow British Museum May /SO 6. 

— — 7r<3cgd bvL.L. Merritt Dec. /SO 6 . 


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Permanent Settlement 


said lands of His Excellency Gabriel Johnston, Esq., and 
Michael Dyer, one hundred and twenty poles distant from the 

Sec. 3. And he it further enacted, by the authority afore- 
said, that forever, after passing of this Act, the inhabitants of 
and near the said town, qualified as hereinafter mentioned, 
shall have the privilege of choosing one Representative for the 
said town, to sit and vote in General Assembly. 

Sec. 4. And for ascertaining the method of choosing the 
said Representative, be it further enacted, by the authority 
aforesaid, that every tenant of any brick, stone, or framed in- 
habitable house, of the length of twenty feet, and sixteen feet 
wide, within the bounds of the said town, who, at the day of 
election, and for three months next before, inhabited such house, 
shall be entitled to vote in the election for the Representative 
of the said town, to be sent to the General Assembly ; and in case 
there shall be no tenant of such house in the said town on the 
day of election, qualified to vote as aforesaid, that then, and in 
such case, the person seized of such house, either in fee-simple, 
or fee-tail, or for term of life, shall be entitled to vote for the 
Representative aforesaid. 

Sec. 5. And be it further enacted, by the authority afore- 
said, that every person who, on the day of election, and for three 
months next before, shall be in actual possession or an inhabi- 
tant of a brick house, of the length of thirty feet, and sixteen 
feet wide, between the bounds of the said town upwards, and 
Smith’s Creek, and within one hundred and twenty poles of the 
Northeast branch of Cape Eear River, shall be entitled to, and 
have a vote in the election of a Representative for the said town 
(unless such person be a servant), and shall, as long as he con- 
tinues an inhabitant of such house, within the said bounds, 
enjoy all the rights, privileges, and immunities, to which any 
inhabitant within the said town shall be entitled, by virtue of 
said Act. 

Sec. 6 . And be it further enacted, by the authority afore- 
said, that no person shall be deemed qualified to be a Repre- 
sentative for the said town, to sit in the General Assembly, un- 
less, on the day of election, he be, and for three months next 
before, was seized, in fee-simple, or for the term of life, of a 
brick, stone, or framed house of the dimensions aforesaid, with 
one or more brick chimney or chimnies. 

Sec. 7. And be it further enacted, by the authority afore- 
said, that forever, after the passing of this Act, the Court of 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

the County of New Hanover, and the election of the Represent- 
atives to be sent to the General Assembly, and the election of 
Vestrymen, and all other public elections, of what kind or 
nature soever, for the said county and town, shall be held and 
made in the town of Wilmington, and at no other place whatso- 
ever, any law, statute, usage, or custom, to the contrary, not- 

Sec. 8. And be it further enacted, by the authority afore- 
said, that from and after the passing of this Act, the Collector 
and Naval Officers of the port of Brunswick (of which port the 
said town of Wilmington is the most central and convenient 
place, both for exportation and importation, by reason of its 
navigation and situation), shall constantly reside in the said 
town, and there keep their respective offices, until His Majesty 
shall be pleased to give his directions to the contrary. And 
likewise, the Clerk of the Court of the County of New Hanover, 
and the Register of the said county, shall constantly hold and 
execute their respective offices in the said town of Wilmington; 
and that if either of the said officers neglect or refuse so to do, 
he so neglecting or refusing, shall, for every month he shall be a 
delinquent, forfeit and pay the sum of five pounds proclamation 
money; to be sued for and recovered, by him who shall sue for 
the same, in the general court of this province, or in the County 
Court of New Hanover, by action of debt, bill, plaint, or infor- 
mation, wherein no essoin, protection, injunction, or wager of 
law shall be allowed, and one-half of such forfeiture shall be 
for the use of the person who sues for the same, and the other 
half shall be paid to the commissioners, for the time being, 
appointed for regulating the said town. 

Sec. 9. And for the due regulating the said town, be it fur- 
ther enacted, by the authority aforesaid, that Robert Hal ton, 
James Murray, Samuel Woodard, William Farris, Richard 
Eagles, John Porter and Robert Walker, Esquires, are hereby 
established and appointed commissioners for the said town ; and 
the said commissioners, or a majority of them, and their suc- 
cessors shall have, and be invested with all powers and authori- 
ties within the bounds of the said town of Wilmington, in as full 
and ample manner as the commissioners for the town of Edenton 
have or possess, by virtue of any law heretofore passed. 

Sec. 10. And whereas the justices of the County Court of 
New Hanover, at the court held at Brunswick, on Tuesday the 
eleventh day of December last, have imposed a tax of five shil- 

Permanent Settlement 


lings per poll, to be levied on the tithable inhabitants of the said 
county, between the first day of January and the first day of 
March, one thousand seven hundred and thirty-nine ; and after- 
wards, one other tax of five shillings per poll, to be levied on the 
said inhabitants, between the first day of January and the first 
day of March, one thousand seven hundred and forty, towards 
building a courthouse and gaol in the town of Brunswick, for 
the said county. 

Sec. 11. Be it enacted, by the authority aforesaid, that the 
justices of the said County Court shall, and are hereby directed 
to apply the said levy or tax towards finishing and completing 
the courthouse already erected in the said town of Wilmington, 
and towards building a gaol in the said town. 

Sec. 12. And be it further enacted, by the authority afore- 
said, that if any one or more of the said commissioners shall 
die, or remove out of the county, that then and in such case, the 
surviving or remaining commissioners shall, within six months 
after the death or removal of such commissioner, present to His 
Excellency the Governor, or Commander-in-Chief for the time 
being, three persons, one of which the said Governor or Com- 
mander-in-Chief is hereby empowered to nominate and appoint; 
and the commissioners so appointed shall be invested with the 
same powers and authorities as any commissioner nominated by 

this Act. T -n ssi 

Gabriel Johnston, Esq., (Governor. 

William Smith, President. 

John Hodgson, Speaker. 


On November 20, 1740, a considerable force, enlisted on the 
Cape Fear, left Wilmington under the command of Capt. James 
Innes to fight the Spaniards at Cartagena; they were carried 
off hy disease and but few returned. The next year the Span- 
iards in retaliation seized Ocracoke Inlet and committed tre- 
mendous depredations. And again, in 1744, they scoured the 
coast. Three years later, they made another foray. In July, 
1747, they entered the Cape Eear, but the militia were prompt 
in meeting them, and held them in check, taking some prisoners. 
From there they went north, entered Beaufort Harbor, and, on 
August 26, after several days’ fighting, gained possession of the 
town. Emboldened by this victory, they returned to the Cape 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Fear, and, on September 4, 1747, began to ascend the river. 
Hew Hanover County then included what has since become 
Brunswick, and the people from Duplin to Lockwood’s Folly 
sprang to their horses and hurried to Brunswick. Eleazar 
Allen, Roger Moore, Edward Moseley, and William Forbes 
were appointed commissioners to take measures for defense; 
while Maj. John Swann was invested with the immediate com- 
mand of the troops. The companies of Capt. William Dry, 
Capt. John Ashe, and Capt. John Sampson, from the upper 
part of the county, alone numbered 300 men; so the defenders 
doubtless were about a thousand. On the 6th, the Spaniards 
possessed themselves of Brunswick, and for four days the battle 
raged. At length, on September 10, one of the Spanish vessels 
was blown up and the others were driven off. All that day 
Colonel Dry was burying dead Spaniards, for a considerable 
number of them perished, and twenty-nine were taken alive. It 
was from the destroyed vessel that the painting in the vestry 
room of St. James’s Church in Wilmington, “Ecce Homo,” was 
taken. The spoils from the wreck were appropriated for the 
use of the churches in Brunswick and Wilmington. 

Because of these incursions, a fort was built the next year to 
guard the river — Fort Johnston. It was garrisoned by com- 
panies raised in the vicinity, and some of the young officers 
trained to arms there afterwards became distinguished in the 
French and Indian War and in the Revolution, among them 
Gen. J ames Moore and Gen. Robert Howe. 

The War of Jenkins’ Ear. 

Catherine Albertson, in her very interesting book entitled 
In Ancient Albemarle , says, with reference to this interesting 
episode : 

The real cause of this war in 1740 was the constant violation 
on the part of the English of the commercial laws which Spain 
had made to exclude foreign nations from the trade of her 
American colonies. But the event which precipitated matters 
and gave to the conflict which followed the name of a The War 
of Jenkins’ Ear” was as follows: 

The Spaniards captured an English merchant vessel, whose 
master they accused of violating the trade laws of Spain. In 
order to wring a confession from the master, Captain Jenkins, 
his captors hung him up to a yardarm of his ship until he was 
nearly dead, and then let him down, thinking he would confess. 

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But on his stoutly denying that he had been engaged in any 
nefarious dealings, and since no proof could be found against 
him, the captain of the Spanish ship cut off one of the English 
captain’s ears, and insolently told him to show it to his country- 
men as a warning of what Englishmen might expect who were 
caught trading with Spain’s colonies in America. 

Captain Jenkins put the ear in his pocket, sailed home as 
fast as wind and wave would carry him, and was taken straight 
to the Houses of Parliament with his story. Such was the in- 
dignation of both Lords and Commons at this insult to one of 
their nation, and so loud was the clamor for vengeance, that 
even Walpole, who for years had managed to hold the English 
dogs of war in leash, was now compelled to yield to the will of 
the people, and Parliament declared war on Spain. 

Immediately upon this declaration, King George called upon 
his a trusty and well-beloved subjects in Carolina” and the other 
twelve colonies, to raise troops to help the mother country in 
her struggle with arrogant Spain. Carolina responded nobly to 
the call for troops, as the following extract from a letter from 
Gov. Gabriel Johnston to the Duke of Newcastle will testify: 
“I can now assure Your Grace that we have raised 400 men 
in this province who are just going to put to sea. In those 
northern parts of the colony adjoining to Virginia, we have got 
100 men each, though some few deserted since they began to 
send them on hoard the transports at Cape Fear. I have good 
reason to believe we could have raised 200 more if it had been 
possible to negotiate the bills of exchange in this part of the con- 
tinent ; hut as that was impossible we were obliged to rest satis- 
fied with four companies. I must, in justice to the Assembly of 
the province, inform Your Grace that they were very zealous and 
unanimous in promoting this service. They have raised a sub- 
sidy of 1,200 pounds, as it is reckoned hereby, on which the 
men have subsisted ever since August, and all the transports 
are victualed.” 

No record has been kept of the names of the privates who 
enlisted from Carolina in this war. Nor do we know how many 
of those who at the King’s call left home and country to fight 
in a foreign land ever returned to their native shores; but we 
do know that these Carolina troops took part in the disastrous 
engagements of Cartagena and Boca-Chica; and that King 
George’s troops saw fulfilled Walpole’s prophecy, made at the 
time of the rejoicing over the news that Parliament had de- 


Chronicles of the Cape . Fear River 

dared war on Spain: “You are ringing the joy bells now,” 

said the great prime minister, “but before this war is over yon 
will all be wringing your hands.” 

After the two crushing defeats of Cartagena and Boca-Chica, 
the troops from the colonies who still survived embarked upon 
their ships to return home ; hut while homeward bound a malig- 
nant fever broke out among the soldiers, which destroyed nine 
out of every ten men on the ships. But few of those from 
Carolina lived to see their native home again. That they bore 
themselves bravely on the field of battle, none who know the 
war record of North Carolina will dare deny, though, as re- 
gards her private soldiers in this war, history is silent. 

One of the officers from Carolina, Captain Innes, of Wil- 
mington, made such a record for gallantry during the two en- 
gagements mentioned, that in the Trench and Indian War, in 
which fourteen years later not only the Thirteen Colonies, hut 
most of the countries of Europe as well, were embroiled, he was 
made commander-in-chief of all the American forces [in Vir- 
ginia], George Washington himself gladly serving under this 
distinguished Carolinian. 


(Extracts from an address delivered by Dr. J. G. DeRouJhac Hamilton, alumnus 
professor of history, University of North Carolina, before the North 
Carolina Society of Colonial Dames at Southport, N. C.) 

Fort Johnston dates from the War of the Austrian Succes- 
sion, or, as it was known in the colonies, King George’s War. 
In this contest, in which the mother country was engaged with 
both France and Spain, many of the colonies took an active 
part. The Southern colonies were all in an exposed condition 
and seemed in imminent danger of attack, particularly from 
Spain. Then it was, in 1745, that the Assembly of North 
Carolina, after reciting that 

“Whereas, from the present War with France and Spain, 
There is great Reason to fear that such Parts of this Province 
which are situated most commodious for Shipping to enter may 
he invaded by the Enemy; and whereas, The Entrance of Cape 
Fear River, from its known depth of water and other Conven- 
iences for Navigation, may tempt them to such an enterprise, 
while it remains in so naked and defenceless a Condition as it 
now is, * * * for the better securing of the Inhabitants 

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of the River from Insult and Invasion,” appointed a board of 
commissioners, consisting of Gov. Gabriel Johnston, for whom 
the fort was to be named, Nathaniel Rice, Robert Halton, Elea- 
zar Allen, Matthew Rowan, Edward Moseley, Roger Moore, 
William Forbes, James Innes, William Farris, John Swann 
and George Moore, who were charged with the duty of erecting 
a fort large enough to contain twenty cannon, and provided for 
the payment of the expenses of construction by appropriating 
therefor the powder money exacted from vessels entering the 
port. In 1748 two thousand pounds were appropriated for the 
work, and at various times later the amount was increased. The 
fort was completed in 1764, by William Fry, and very poorly 
built it was, too, for the tapia, or “tabby work,” as it was called, 
contained such a large proportion of sand that every time a gun 
was fired part of the parapet fell down. Governor Tryon said 
that it was a disgrace to the ordnance in it, but he described its 
situation as admirable in every respect, and Josiah Quincy, who 
visited it in 1773, said it was delightful. 

The first commander of the fort was Capt. John Dalrymple. 
Of this officer, the least said, the better. General Braddock, in 
order to get rid of him, gave him the appointment and sent him 
to Governor Dobbs. This is not an unfair example of the 
English method of making colonial appointments at that time. 
Dalrymple went to England, and upon his return was arrested 
by Governor Dobbs and thrown into prison, but upon appeal to 
the Board of Trade, he was restored to command and held it 
until his death at the fort in 1766. Governor Tryon at once 
recommended Robert Howe for the vacancy and placed him in 
command, but Abraham Collett received the commission and 
under Governor Martin took command of the fort. The position 
was retained by him until the downfall of the royal government. 

Twice before 1776 was the wisdom of the colonial leaders in 
not strengthening the fort justified. When those patriots of the 
Cape Fear, under the lead of Harnett, Ashe, and Waddell, 
defied the Governor and the armed power of England and 
thereby prevented the execution of the Stamp Act, placing 
themselves high in our roll of honor, Governor Tryon had the 
mortification of seeing the guns of the fort spiked by Captain 
Dalrymple, lest they be turned by Waddell and his force against 
the English war vessels that lay in the harbor. The garrison 
of the fort, consisting of Captain Dalrymple and two men, then 
took refuge elsewhere. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

In July, 1775, Governor Martin, considering that only about 
a dozen men composed the garrison, decided that the best policy 
was to dismount the cannon and place them under the protection 
of the guns of the Cruizer then lying at anchor in the harbor. 
He wrote Halifax : 

“Fort Johnston, my lord, is a most contemptible thing, fit 
neither for a place of arms nor an asylum for the friends of the 
government. On account of the weakness and smallness of it, 
it is of little consequence, and the King’s artillery, which is all 
that is good about it, will he as well secured under cover of the 
Cruizer s guns, at less charge, as upon the walls of that little 
wretched place.” 

The general correctness of this statement is one of the most 
fortunate circumstances of Forth Carolina Revolutionary his- 

The Wilmington Committee of Safety, already influenced by 
the deep anger of the people against Captain Collett, whose 
conduct even Governor Martin considered indefensible, had, in 
the meantime, decided upon the capture of the fort, and on 
July 18, the Governor received from John Ashe a notice, 
signed “The People,” which announced the intention of the 
committee to take possession. That night he took refuge on 
the Cruizer , and the patriots, occupying the fort, set fire to the 
buildings, and the next day what remained of them was de- 
stroyed. With this departure of Martin, royal government in 
Forth Carolina ceased. One of the purest and most gifted 
sons of the Cape F ear has said of this : 

“Thus nobly upon the Cape Fear closed the first act of the 
drama. And when the curtain rose again George by the grace 
of God, King, was King no longer ; hut the Constitution reigned, 
and the free people of Forth Carolina governed themselves.” 

After the capture of the fort, it was occupied by patriot troops 
under Robert Howe. Later in the war, five British regiments 
encamped on the site, hut it played no important part during 
the Revolution, and the remainder of its history can be briefly 
told. At the close of the Revolution, the only people living near 
the fort were a few pilots. The healthfulness of the situation, 
however, interested a number of residents of Wilmington, and 
steps were taken for laying off a town. One, situated on the 
lands of Maj. John Walker, was incorporated, but disappeared 
simultaneously with its incorporation. But in 1792, an act of 
the Assembly set up the town of Smithville, naming it in honor 

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of that patriot and philanthropist, Benjamin Smith, who after- 
wards became governor of North Carolina. And Smithville it 
remained, a good North Carolina name, preserving in onr 
nomenclature the memory of that public benefactor, until a few 
years since, when this monument of the past was destroyed and 
the name of Southport substituted. I trust that I may live to 
see the day when Smithville shall be restored to North Carolina. 

The site of the fort remained the property of North Carolina 
until 1794, when it was ceded to the United States on condition 
that a fort should be erected there. The condition was not ful- 
filled until 1809. Then the Legislature receded the site to the 
United States. 

In 1825 the construction of Uort Caswell was begun, and 
after its completion Fort Johnston was of less importance. In 
1836 the garrison was withdrawn. 

Its importance during the War between the States was ob- 
scured by the glory of its neighbor, Fort Fisher, and since the 
war Fort Johnston has been entirely abandoned for Fort Cas- 

It remains, then, a relic of the past. It was the scene of a. 
calm and brave defiance, fiung in the teeth of England’s power,, 
and it is well to mark the spot and at the same time to dedicate 
here a monument which shall forever commemorate the valor 
and patriotism of the men of the Cape Fear. 


In his admirable History of New Hanover County , a labor 
of love for which the accomplished author never received the 
smallest compensation, the late Col. Alfred Moore Waddell 
describes sixty-six prominent plantations and their proprietors 
on the Lower Cape Fear in colonial times. Of the manner of life 
of these planters, he says in A Colonial Officer and His Times: 

“In the southern end of the province, at Brunswick and 
Wilmington, and along the Cape Fear, there were an equally 
refined and cultivated society and some very remarkable men. 
No better society existed in America, and it is but simple truth 
to say that for classical learning, wit, oratory, and varied accom- 
plishments, no generation of their successors has equaled them. 

“Their hospitality was boundless and proverbial, and of the 
manner in which it was enjoyed there can he no counterpart in 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

the present age. Some of them had town residences, but most 
of them lived on their plantations, and they were not the thrift- 
less characters that by some means it became fashionable to 
assume all Southern planters were. There was much gaiety and 
festivity among them, and some of them rode hard to hounds, 
but as a general rule they looked after their estates, and kept 
themselves as well informed in regard to what was going on 
in the world as the limited means of communication allowed. 
There was little display, but in almost every house could be 
found valuable plate, and, in some, excellent libraries. The 
usual mode of travel was on horseback, and in ‘gigs/ or ‘chairs/ 
which were vehicles without springs but hung on heavy straps, 
and to which one horse, and sometimes by young beaux, two 
horses, tandem, were driven; a mounted servant rode behind, 
or, if the gig was occupied by ladies, beside the horse. The 
family coach was mounted by three steps, and had great carved 
leather springs, with baggage rack behind, and a high, narrow 
driver’s seat and box in front. The gentlemen wore clubbed 
and powdered queues and knee-breeches, with buckled low- 
quartered shoes, and many carried gold or silver snuffboxes 
which, being first tapped, were handed with grave courtesy to 
their acquaintances when passing the compliments of the day. 
There are persons still living who remember seeing these things 
in their early youth. The writer of these lines himself remem- 
bers seeing in his childhood the decaying remains of old ‘chairs/ 
and family coaches, and knew at that time several old negroes 
who had been body servants in their youth to the proprietors of 
these ancient vehicles. It is no wonder they sometimes drove 
the coaches four-in-hand. It was not only grand style, but the 
weight of the vehicle and the character of the roads made it 

“During the period embraced in these pages, four-wheeled 
pleasure vehicles were rare, and even two-wheeled ones were not 
common, except among the town nabobs and well-to-do planters. 
The coaches, or chariots, as a certain class of vehicles was called, 
were all imported from England, and the possession of such a 
means of locomotion was evidence of high social position. It 
was less than twenty years before the period named, that the 
first stage wagon in the colonies, in 1738, was run from Trenton 
to Hew Brunswick, in Hew Jersey, twice a week, and the ad- 
vertisement of it assured the public that it would be fitted up 
with benches and covered over ‘so that passengers may sit easy 
and dry.’ ” 

Permanent Settlement 


Some of the prominent Lower Cape Lear men of colonial and 
Revolutionary days were, Governor Burrington, of Governor’s 
Point; Gen. Robert Howe, of Howe’s Point; Nathaniel Moore, 
of York; Gov. Arthur Dobbs, of Russellboro — all below Orton. 
“King” Roger Moore, of Orton; James Smith, of Kendal; 
Eleazar Allen, of Lilliput; John Moore, of Pleasant Oaks; 
Nathaniel Rice, of Old Town Creek; John Baptista Ashe, of 
Spring Garden, afterwards called Grovely ; Chief J ustice Hasell, 
of Belgrange ; Schencking Moore, of Hullfields ; J ohn Davis, of 
Davis Plantation; John Dalrymple (who commanded Port 
Johnston), of Dalrymple Place; John Ancrum, of Old Town; 
Marsden Campbell, of Clarendon ; Richard Eagles, of The 
Forks; Judge Alfred Moore, of Buchoi; John Waddell, of Bel- 
ville; Gov. Benjamin Smith, of Belvidere. These were all 
below Wilmington. Many others equally important resided 
on their plantations above Wilmington. All are recorded in 
Colonel Waddell’s History of New Hanover County, but these 
are mentioned here in support of the statement that the Cape 
Fear planters of olden time were men of mark. 


Many of the old homesteads described by Colonel Waddell 
have fallen into decay and some of the residences have entirely 
disappeared, but Orton, on the lower Cape Fear River, still 
stands as it did in colonial days, when it was the home of 
“King” Roger Moore, of Gov. Benjamin Smith, of Richard 
Quince, and in later years of Dr. Fred J. Hill and Col. Ken- 
neth McKenzie Murchison. 

It is a majestic domain of more than ten thousand acres, and 
the house is still regarded by competent critics as one of the 
finest examples of pure colonial architecture in America. 

The lordly residence of Chief Justice Eleazar Allen, upon 
the adjacent plantation of Lilliput, which was distinguished in 
his day for a large and liberal hospitality, has long since dis- 
appeared, but the grand old oaks which lifted their majestic 
branches to the soft south breezes in colonial times still sing 
their murmured requiem above a “boundless contiguity of 

Here, upon the banks of our historic river, which stretches 
two miles to the eastern shore, is heard the booming of the broad 
Atlantic as it sweeps in its might and majesty from Greenland 


Permanent Settlement 


to us there. The primeval forest with its dense undergrowth of 
dogwood blossoms, which shine with the brightness of the falling 
snow; the thickets of Cherokee roses, which surpass the most 
beautiful of other regions; the brilliant carpet of wild azaleas, 
the golden splendor of the yellow jessamine, the modest Prosera , 
the marvelous Dioncea muscipula, and the trumpet Sarracenia; 
the river drive to the white beach, from which are seen the dis- 
tant breakers ; the secluded spot in the wilderness commanding 
a wide view of an exquisite landscape, where, safe from intru- 
sion, we sat upon a sheltered seat beneath the giant pines and 
heard the faint “Yo ho” of the sailor, outward bound; a place 
apart for holy contemplation when the day is far spent, where 
the overhanging branches cast the shadow of a cross, and where, 
later, through the interlacing foliage, the star of hope is shining ; 
the joyful reception at the big house, the spacious hall with its 
ample hearth and blazing oak logs ; around it, after the bounti- 
ful evening meal, the old songs sung and the old tales told, and 
fun and frolic to keep dull care beyond the threshold. 

Through the quiet lanes of Orton to the ruins of Governor 
Try on’s palace is half a mile. Here is the cradle of American 
independence; for upon this spot, until recently hidden by a 
dense undergrowth of timber, occurred, between six and seven 
o’clock on the evening of the 19th of February, 1766, the first 
open resistance to the British Stamp Act in the American colo- 
nies, by 450 armed men, who surrounded the palace and de- 
manded the surrender of the custodian of the obnoxious symbols 
of the King’s authority. 

Ten minutes’ walk farther down brings us to the ruins of the 
colonial church of St. Philip, the scene of many notable inci- 
dents and the resting place of early pioneers. It was built 
by the citizens of Brunswick, and, principally, by the landed 
gentry, about 1740. In 1751, Mr. Lewis Henry DeBosset, a 
member of Gov. Gabriel Johnston’s council, and subsequently 
an expatriated Loyalist, introduced a bill appropriating to St. 
Philip’s Church at Brunswick and to St. James’s Church at 
Wilmington, equally, a fund that was realized by the capture 
and destruction of a pirate vessel, which, in a squadron of 
Spanish buccaneers, had entered the river and plundered the 

The walls of St. Philip’s Church are nearly three feet thick, 
and are solid and almost intact still, while the roof and floor 
have disappeared. It must have possessed much architectural 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

beauty and massive grandeur, with its high-pitched roof, its 
lofty doors, and its beautiful chancel windows. 

A little to the west, surrounded by a forest of pines, lies 
Liberty Pond, a beautiful lake of clear spring water, once 
stained with the blood of friend and foe in a deadly conflict — 
hence its traditional name. It is now a most restful, tranquil 
spot, with its profound stillness, the beach of snow white sand, 
the unbroken surface of the lake reflecting the foliage and the 
changing sky-line. 

Turning to the southeast, we leave the woodland and reach a 
blufl upon the river bank, still known as Howe’s Point, where 
the Revolutionary patriot and soldier, Gen. Robert Howe, was 
born and reared. His residence, long since a ruin, was a large 
frame building on a stone or brick foundation, still remembered 
as such by several aged citizens of Brunswick. 

A short distance from the Howe place, the writer found some 
years ago, in the woods and upon a commanding site near the 
river, under many layers of pine straw, the clearly defined ruins 
of an ancient fort, which was undoubtedly of colonial origin. 
Mr. Reynolds, who lived at his place near by, said that his great 
grandfather informed him forty years ago that long before the 
War of the Revolution this fort was erected by the colonial gov- 
ernment for the protection of the colonists against buccaneers. 

Hence to the staid old county seat is a journey of an hour; it 
was originally known as Port Johnston. The adjacent hamlet 
was subsequently called Smithville. In the old courthouse, 
which is its principal building, may be seen the evidence that 
on the death, January 17, 1749, of Mr. Allen, aged 57 years, 
the plantation Lilliput, where he was buried, became the prop- 
erty (and, it is said, the residence for a brief period) of the 
great grandson of Oliver Cromwell, Sir Thomas Prankland, 
commanding the frigate Rose , who was subsequently Admiral 
of the White in the British Havy. 

In connection with the inscription on Chief Justice Allen’s 
tomb — that he died in January, 1749 — it is to be noted that in 
December, 1749, he was acting as chief justice. At that period 
the calendar year began and ended in March, so that January, 
1749, followed December of that year. The alteration in the 
calendar was made by act of Parliament in 1751. 

Permanent Settlement 



A stately mansion girt by God’s great woods, 

Each clod of earth a friend to me and mine. 

Each room a home within the one vast home, 

Where naught of all its perfect pomp 

Can mar the sweet simplicity and ease of entertainment. 

There dwells the warmth of generous hospitality 
That counts no act a favor and no gift a sacrifice. 

There sordid things and anxious cares come not. 

No strangers’ words or presence there intrude. 

There love of life — clean, wholesome, healthful life — prevails. 
And there the peace of God pervades 
Each hour of perfect day and night. 

One day within its woods, 

One night beneath its roof, 

To tired body gives a newborn vigor, 

To wearied mind a keen creative power, 

To the soul a sense of clean, sweet peace, 

And to the hour of regretful leaving 
A loving and lasting benediction. 

Rev. Richard W. Hogue. 


By Rosa Pendleton Chiles. 

Stretching for miles through the vast domain of Orton Planta- 
tion is a great pond, and in an elected spot above its still waters 
nests the only colony of egrets remaining in North Carolina 

For centuries the heron has made its home in the primeval 
solitude of saltmarsh, untrodden swamp, or silent waters of 
some hidden pond, where the cypress springs like a sentinel 
from the deep and spreads its limbs for nesting ground. Bold 
must he the hunter, though tempted by the glimmer of gold, who, 
braving mosquitoes and reptiles, threads his way over the track- 
less morass, paddles his boat along the tortuous meanderings of 
the smaller water courses, or plunges through the dense growth 
fringing their banks, following the heron to its nest in pine or 
cypress. Yet we know only too well some who are fearless 
enough to make the effort, and the story of their success is writ- 
ten in the tragedy of millions of bird lives and the deeper 
tragedy of some human lives. Notwithstanding the caution of 
this noble bird in seeking a home in the well-nigh impenetrable 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

waste of marsh or cypress-grown water, it has escaped extermi- 
nation only through the aid of its human friends. 

There are twenty heron colonies along the Atlantic coast, but 
only three are protected by individuals; the rest are cared for 
by the National Association of Audubon Societies. One of these 
is the Crane Neck colony, belonging to Mr. James Sprunt, the 
present owner of Orton Plantation, and wholly preserved by 
him. He who notes the sparrow’s fall put into the heart of 
Mr. Sprunt a great love for wild creatures, and it is a joy and 
satisfaction to him to afford the heron wise enough to seek 
refuge at Crane Neck complete protection from the mercenary 
and merciless plume-hunter. Here the snowy egret, American 
egret, great blue, little blue, black-crowned night, Louisiana, 
and green herons nest and chatter of the brooding time in as 
great security as others of their kind, peopling, perchance, the 
same pond, and mingling their familiar “quock, quock” with 
the rippling waters as the first ship sailed up the Cape Pear, 
enjoyed more than two hundred and fifty years ago. No doubt 
the adventurous explorers, Hilton, Fabian, and Long, witnessed, 
as those fortunate enough today may witness, the heron flight 
high in the rare air of the purpling dawn, woven into its ravish- 
ing cloud-films and vanishing with them. 

“They near, they pass, set sharp against the sky; 

Grotesques some Orient artist might have drawn 
Blue on a golden dawn; 

They pass, are gone like leaves blown cloud-high, — 

And oh, my heart is mad to follow where they fly!” 

Such may have been the sentiment of the early adventurous 
spirit, dreaming of conquest; such seems now the sentiment of 
certain heirs of that conquest, dreaming of greed. But the 
heron of Crane Neck flies in peace. 

This colony was brought to the attention of the ornithological 
world in 1898 by Mr. T. Gilbert Pearson, secretary of the 
National Association of Audubon Societies, himself a North 
Carolinian, and the association, of which Mr. Sprunt is a mem- 
ber, feels unusual satisfaction in the preservation by its owner 
of this single egret colony in the State. According to the report 
of Mr. Pearson at this time, “the colony contains probably 800 
pairs of little blue herons, about the same number of Louisiana 
herons, 125 pairs of great blue herons, 40 pairs of American 
egrets, 25 pairs of snowy egrets, and probably 20 pairs of black- 

Permanent Settlement 


crowned night herons, also a few green herons, and now and 
then a few anhingas.” 

The curator of the State Museum, Mr. H. H. Brimley, visited 
the colony in 1913, and reported a somewhat smaller number 
than Mr. Pearson now estimates, but both have stated that the 
colony holds its own. Mr. Brimley makes the encouraging state- 
ment that “the American egrets have increased in number dur- 
ing the past few years, and that the snowy egrets have at least 
held their own/’ and adds, “No evidence of any kind was noted 
of the plume herons having been ‘shot up.’ ” Concluding, Mr. 
Brimley says : “The pride taken in this interesting heron colony 
by its owner, Mr. James Sprunt, of Wilmington, and his inter- 
est in the conservation of all wild life, is responsible for its 
immunity from being ‘shot up.’ It is widely known, locally, 
and the means of reaching it are known even to some of the old- 
time plume-hunters, and to the efforts of Mr. Sprunt in pre- 
serving these birds all praise is due.” The feeling expressed 
by Mr. Brimley is the feeling entertained by all bird-lovers, who 
rejoice that the heron has this safe retreat. 


By Dr. John Hampden Hill. 

About forty-one years ago Dr. John Hampden Hill,i a promi- 
nent Cape Fear planter of Lilliput, a gentleman of culture and 
refinement, generally respected and admired, wrote some inter- 
esting reminiscences of the Lower Cape Fear, and for personal 
reasons instructed his friend, Mr. DuBrutz Cutlar, to reserve 
them from publication until after the author’s death. Upon my 
earnest solicitation, however, he permitted me to copy these 
papers in the year 1892 and to use them in a series of news- 
paper articles entitled A Colonial Plantation. I reproduce them 
here as worthy of more permanent record. 

After this section began to be visited, and settlements made 
by emigrants from Europe and from the other provinces, 
amongst the earliest places that attracted attention was Stag 
Park. It was first located and patented by George Burrington, 
then governor of the province of North Carolina. This Gov- 
ernor Burrington was a very worthless and profligate character, 
so much so, that on one occasion being at Edenton, he was pre- 

!Dr. Hill was born April 28, 1807, at Hyrneham, and died February 
19, 1893, at Goldsboro, full of years and the consolations of an honorable 
Christian life. 

64 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

sented by the grand jury of Chowan County for riotous and dis- 
orderly conduct on the streets, with a party of rowdy compan- 
ions. Of such material as this did our English rulers make 
governors for the guardianship of the lives and fortunes of their 
loyal subjects in these provinces. 

Burrington returned to England, and there contracted a debt 
•to a Mr. Strudwick, for which he mortgaged the Stag Park 
estate of ten thousand acres, and a large body of land which he 
owned in what was known as The Hawfields, in Orange County. 
Mr. Strudwick sent his son, Edmund, to look after his property, 
thus acquired in this country. 

The tradition was that this gentleman had fallen into dis- 
favor with his friends on account of having married an actress 
in the city of London, which was the cause of his coming to set- 
tle in America. His residence was divided between Stag Park 
and The Hawfields. He left a son whom the writer has only 
heard mentioned as Major Strudwick and as quite an influential 
citizen of Orange County, where he chiefly resided. He married 
a Miss Shepperd, of Orange, by which marriage there were 
several sons and daughters, of whom the late Mr. Samuel Strud- 
wick, of Alabama, was the eldest. This gentleman was a suc- 
cessful planter and acquired a large estate, He was of high 
intelligence, and remarkable for his fine conversational talent. 

Dr. Edmund Strudwick, of Hillsboro, is well known as one 
of the ablest physicians of the State, and is especially eminent 
as a surgeon. Betsy, the eldest daughter, married Mr. Paoli 
Ashe, and was the mother of the Hon. Thomas S. Ashe, one of 
the associate justices of the Supreme Court of North Carolina, 
and a gentleman distinguished alike for professional ability and 
great worth and purity of character. 

Stag Park was sold about the year 1817 for division among 
the heirs, and was purchased by Ezekiel Lane, Esq., for $10,000. 
This gentleman we will have occasion to mention further on. 

The next place, descending the Northeast, is The Neck, the 
residence of Gov. Samuel Ashe, who, together with his brother, 
Gen. John Ashe, was amongst the most prominent and influen- 
tial characters in the Cape Eear region, both before and after 
the Revolutionary War. Governor Ashe held with distinction 
the office of judge up to the time he was elected governor. His 
eldest son, John Baptista Ashe, was also elected governor, but 
died before he could be inducted into office. There were two 
other sons of Governor Ashe, Samuel and Thomas. The latter 

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was the grandfather of the present Judge Ashe, already spoken 
of, and the former will be mentioned further on. There was 
still another son named Cincinnatus, who, with some other 
youths of the Cape Fear gentry, volunteered as midshipman on 
board a privateer, fitted out at Wilmington, and commanded by 
a Captain Allen, an Englishman. The vessel went to sea, and 
was supposed to have been sunk by a British ship, or foundered 
in some other way, as she was never more heard of. The writer 
remembers when he was a child an old lady, a Mrs. Allen, en- 
tirely blind, the widow of the English captain, who lived with 
the families of the Northeast, first one and then another, with 
whom she was always a welcome guest, and treated with much 
respect and consideration. 

Below The Neck, and within the precinct known as Rocky 
Point, was Green Hill, the residence of Gen. John Ashe. This 
gentleman did more, probably, than any other man in the prov- 
ince towards arousing the spirit of resistance against what was 
called British oppression. He was the prime mover and leader 
of the party which resisted the Governor in his attempt to 
enforce the Stamp Act. And when the War of the Revolution 
did break out, he raised a regiment at his own expense, so 
ardently were his feelings enlisted in the cause. 

The history of General Ashe’s services is, or ought to he, 
known to the people of the Cape Eear. But it may not he 
known that he died in obscurity, and the place of his interment 
can not he pointed out. The story is that on a visit to his 
family at Green Hill when in feeble health, he was betrayed by 
a faithless servant to a party of soldiers, sent out from the garri- 
son at Wilmington for his capture. Taken to Wilmington, he 
was confined in Craig’s “bull-pen,” as it was called. Here his 
health became so feeble that he was released on parole, and at- 
tempted to get to his family at Hillsboro. But he reached no 
farther than Sampson Hall, the residence of Col. John Samp- 
son, in the county of that name. Here he died and was buried, 
and there is neither stone nor mound to mark the spot. 

General Ashe left a son who also served in the War of the 
Revolution — Maj. Samuel Ashe. He was an active politician 
of the Democrat-Republican party, and represented for many 
years the county of New Hanover in the Legislature. Of the 
three daughters of General Ashe, one married Colonel Alston, 
of South Carolina. Gov. Joseph Alston of South Carolina was 
her son. Another married Mr. Davis ; and the third, Mr. Wil- 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

liam H. Hill. The last was the mother of Mr. Joseph Alston 
Hill, the most talented man of the family, with the most bril- 
liant promise of distinction when he died at the age of thirty- 
six. This Green Hill property is now owned by the estate of 
the late Maj. John Walker. 

The Ashe family in early times after the Revolution differed 
in politics with the generality of the Cape Fear gentry. The 
Governor and his sons, with the exception of Col. Samuel Ashe, 
were leaders of the Republican or J effersonian faction, whereas 
the large majority of the gentry and educated class were Feder- 
alists of the Hamilton school. After the adoption of the Federal 
Constitution and a republican form of government was estab- 
lished, there is no doubt hut that a good deal of feeling and 
prejudice existed against what was called too much liberty and 
equality, and the practice of some of the old Republicans was 
not always consistent with their professed principles. 

The next place of note, and adjoining Green Hill to the north, 
was Moseley Hall, the residence of the Moseley family, one of 
prominence in colonial times. One of them, Sampson Moseley, 
Esq., was a member of the King’s council and surveyor-general 
of the province, but the writer does not know that any of the 
male members of the family survived the Revolution, or that 
any of their descendants whatever are left. They were nearly 
allied by blood to the Lillingtons. One of the daughters of the 
family married a Mr. Carlton Walker, and left one son, John 
Moseley Walker, who died soon after coming of age, and the 
estate passed to his half-brothers and sisters. This was a large 
and quite valuable place and was said to have been handsomely 
improved, but all that the writer remembers seeing were the 
remains of what were said to have been fine old avenues. 

Crossing Clayton Creek, we come to the next place below, 
known in olden times as Clayton Hall, the residence of a Mr. 
Clayton, a Scotch gentleman, who died leaving no descendants, 
though I believe the Restons of Wilmington were his nearest 
kin. This property, which was at one time regarded as the best 
plantation in Hew Hanover County, was purchased by Col. 
Samuel Ashe. Colonel Ashe, when I knew him, was about the 
only survivor of the olden times on the Hortheast River. He 
had been a soldier in the War of the Revolution, had entered the 
army when he was but seventeen years old and served through 
the last three years of the war, was at the siege of Charleston, 
and was there made prisoner. Colonel Ashe was a gentleman 

Permanent Settlement 


of commanding appearance, tall and erect, with prominent fea- 
tures, deep-sunken, but piercing eyes, of fine manners and bear- 
ing, of remarkable colloquial powers, and manner and style of 
narration most engaging. Especially was bis fund of anecdotes 
and incidents relating to the olden times most interesting, and 
seemed almost inexhaustible. Of him Mr. George Davis, in bis 
address at Chapel Hill in 1855, spoke as follows: “In my early 
youth I remember an old man, bowed by age and infirmities, 
but of noble front and most commanding presence. Old and 
young gathered around him in love and veneration to listen to 
his stories of the olden times. And as he spoke of his country’s 
trials, and of the deeds and sufferings of her sons, his eyes 
flashed with the ardor of youth, and his voice rang like the 
battle charge of a bugle. He was the soul of truth and honor, 
with the ripe wisdom of a man and the guileless simplicity of 
a child. He won strangers to him with a look, and those who 
knew him loved him with a most filial affection. Hone ever 
lived more honored and revered. Hone ever died leaving a 
purer or more cherished memory. This was Col. Samuel Ashe, 
‘the last of all the Romans.’ ” 

The old Clayton Hall mansion, left for a long time unten- 
anted, went to decay, and there was nothing left of it when the 
writer can remember but the foundation. He can remember an 
old vault, which stood to the north of the creek, in which it is 
said the remains of Mr. Clayton rested. After Colonel Ashe 
came in possession of the place, he built immediately on the bank 
of the creek, so that you could stand on one end of his piazza 
and fish. The spring out of which they got their drinking 
water flowed from the base of a rock, which formed the bank of 
the creek, and when the tide was up, the spring was overflowed. 

It was a great treat to visit the old colonel and hear him talk 
of olden times. His memory was remarkable and his style of 
narration uncommonly good. 

He seemed familiar with the genealogy of every family that 
had ever lived on the Cape Rear, and their traditions. It is 
much to be regretted that some one who had the capacity could 
not have chronicled his narratives as they were related by him- 

Colonel Ashe removed from Rocky Point when he was well 
advanced in years to a place which he owned on the Cape Pear, 
in the neighborhood of Fayetteville, where he lived several 
years. His only male descendant of the name in the State, I 
believe, is Capt. Samuel A. Ashe, of Raleigh. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Colonel Ashe, on his removal, sold the Clayton Hall estate to 
Dr. James F. McRee, who retired from the practice of medicine 
in Wilmington and made his residence here, where he carried 
on planting operations with fair success. He abandoned the old 
settlement, and built on what was known as the Sand Ridge, 
and renamed the place, calling it Ashe-Moore, in compliment to 
the two families so long known and distinguished in the Cape 
Fear region. Dr. McRee had acquired a higher reputation than 
any other physician of his day in the Lower Cape Fear, or even 
in the whole State. The writer enjoyed the privilege of being 
his pupil, and of his long friendship, and to speak of him in 
such terms as he esteemed him, as a noble gentleman and physi- 
cian, might seem like extravagant eulogy. 

The next place on the river is The Vats. Here the river 
changes its course, making a sharp, sudden bend, and a promi- 
nent point of rocks jutting into the stream gives the name of 
Rocky Point to all that portion of country lying west, as far 
as the Wilmington & Weldon Railroad. This place was first 
located by Maj. Maurice Moore, one of the earliest pioneers of 
the Cape Fear section. It is related that Major Moore and 
Governor Burrington, both of them exploring in search of rich 
lands, happened to reach this point about the same time. As 
they stepped on shore from their boats, both claimed possession 
by right of prior location and occupation. But the colonel 
stoutly resisted His Excellency’s pretensions, and by dint of 
strong will held the property. The arbitrary disposition exhib- 
ited on this occasion rather strikingly illustrates what is said to 
have been characteristic of the Moore family, especially that 
branch of it. The lands of this place were very rich, and it 
continued in the Moore family for several generations. It was 
finally sold by Judge Alfred Moore to Mr. Ezekiel Lane, a most 
worthy gentleman, who here laid the foundation of quite a large 
estate, acquired by farming alone. Commencing with small 
means, he became the largest landowner in the county of Hew 
Hanover, his estate being mostly composed of those Rocky 
Point lands. 

The next two places, adjoining and to the south of The Vats, 
were Spring Field and Strawberry, owned by Mr. Levin Lane, 
a son of Mr. E. Lane, a planter like his father, and a most 
worthy and highly respectable gentleman. Mr. Lane resided at 

Let us return to The Vats and cross the river by the ferry 

Permanent Settlement 


there. Traveling eastward by the New Bern Road about four 
miles, we come to Lillington Hall, the residence of Gen. Alex- 
ander Lillington . 1 It would seem like a singular selection for 
a gentleman to make for a residence, just on the border of the 
Great Holly Shelter pocosin or dismal, and quite remote from 
the other gentry settlements. But in those days stock raising 
was much attended to, and here immense tracts of unoccupied 
lands furnished rich pasturage and fine range. 

General Lillington was nearly allied to the Moseleys, of 
Moseley Hall, and came to reside on the Cape Fear about the 
same time with them. He was an ardent Whig and patriot, and 
taking up arms early in the Revolution, he soon distinguished 
himself as a hold and sagacious leader. On the attempt of the 
Scotch settlers about Cross Creek to move on Wilmington for 
the purpose of cooperating with the British force intended to in- 
vade and subjugate North Carolina, General Lillington speedily 
organized the militia of New Hanover and Duplin Counties 
and marched rapidly in the direction from which the enemy 
approached. Selecting a position at Moore’s Creek where it was 
crossed by a ridge, he threw up intrenchments and awaited the 
approach of the Scots. On the arrival of General Caswell, the 
superior in command, he approved of Lillington’s plans and 
arrangements for meeting the enemy. The result of the battle 
which ensued is well known to history, and its success was, by 
his contemporaries, mainly attributed to Lillington’s prompt 
movement and skillful arrangements. 

The Lillington Hall mansion was a quaint old structure of 
ante-Revolutionary date, and standing alone ; there was no house 
that approached it in size or appearance in that wild region. 
When the writer visited there while a youth there was quite a 
library of rare old English hooks which would be highly prized 
at this day. At that time it was owned and occupied by Mr. 
Samuel Black, a highly respectable and worthy gentleman, who 
had married the widow of Mr. George Lillington, the youngest 
son of the colonel. This place, like all the residences of the 
early gentry, has gone out of the family and into stranger hands. 

As there is no other place of note on the east side of the river, 
we will recross the ferry at The Vats, and following the road 

General Lillington married a daughter of Mr. William Watters, one 
of the most esteemed planters of Brunswick. The Watters family in 
every generation has been most highly regarded for its worth and ex- 
cellence. Mrs. Lillington is said to have been on the field with her hus- 
band at the Battle of Moore’s Creek. 

70 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

leading west to where it crosses the main county road, come to 
Moore Fields. This was the residence of George Moore, Esq., 
one of the most prominent gentlemen of his day, both before and 
after the Revolution. I remember the old mansion as it stood, 
hut much dilapidated. Not a vestige of it is left now. There 
had been raised near the house two mounds for rabbit-warrens, 
and near by was a fishpond. Mr. Moore was the father of a 
numerous progeny. He was twice married. His first wife was 
a Miss Mary Ashe, a sister, I believe, of Governor Ashe; the 
second was a Miss Jones. There is extant an old copy of the 
Church of England Prayer-book in the possession of one of his 
descendants (Hr. William H. Moore) in which are recorded the 
births and names of his children by these marriages, and there 
were twenty-seven. From these or the survivors, for many of 
them must have died during infancy, have sprung many of the 
families of the Cape Fear region, some of whose descendants 
are still living there, among whom can be mentioned the Hon. 
George Davis, who has no superior, if any equal, here or in any 
other part of the State. Also, the Hon. Thomas S. Ashe is one 
of the lineal descendants of this old stock. There was one of 
the granddaughters, Miss Sallie Moore, who was reputed to be 
the greatest beauty of her day. Her father, William Moore, 
removed to the State of Tennessee, where she was heard of still 
living a few years since. 

George Moore of Moore Fields, as he was familiarly called, 
was remarkable for his great energy and good management; a 
man of considerable wealth, owning many slaves. He had a 
summer residence on the sound, to reach which he crossed the 
Northeast River at The Vats ferry; and from a mile or two to 
the east of it, he had made a perfectly straight road, ditched on 
each side, twenty miles in length. This road, though no longer 
used, can still be traced. It is related that when corn was wanted 
at the summer place, one hundred negro fellows would be 
started, each with a bushel bag on his head. There is quite a 
deep ditch leading from some large bay swamps lying to the 
west of the county road. It used to be called the Devils Ditch, 
and there was some mystery and idle tradition as to why and 
how the ditch was cut there. It was doubtless made to drain 
the water from those bays, to flood some lands cultivated in rice 
which were too low to be drained for corn. 

We will now pass down the old Swann Point Avenue to the 
county road, and, traveling west, soon reach and cross Turkey 






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Permanent Settlement 


Creek, and come to that famous old plantation, Spring Garden, 
the residence of Frederick Jones, Esq., noted in his day as 
being the most industrious and successful farmer in all the 
country round. Mr. Jones was a Virginian, induced to settle 
on the Cape Fear by Mr. Swann, whose niece he had married. 
Besides the son, who assumed the name of Swann, there were 
five daughters, one of whom married Mr. John Hill, of Fair 
Fields. She was the mother of the late Dr. Frederick J. and 
John Hill. Another married Michael Sampson, Esq.,, of Samp- 
son Hall. The remaining three daughters married three broth- 
ers, Scotch gentlemen, by the name of Cutlar. Only one of 
these left children, Dr. Boger Cutlar, who was the father of the 
late Dr. Frederick J. Cutlar, of Wilmington, eminent in his 
profession and beloved for his purity of character. From this 
good old Spring Garden stock, comes also the writer’s best 
esteemed and most worthy friend, DuBrutz Cutlar, Esq. 1 

We will now retrace our steps across Turkey Creek. Passing 
over the river at The Oaks and going through what was called 
Legare’s Heck, we come to Castle Haynes. Legare’s, a deep 
neck formed by the river on one side and Prince George’s Creek 
on the other, was widely known as a favorite resort for deer and 
a famous hunting ground. Castle Haynes was the residence of 
a Mr. Haynes, of whose history the writer has heard but little, 
except that he was the ancestor of the Waddell family, among 
whom I have heard related the tradition of his sad death by 
drowning. It is said that he was ill of a fever and, while in 
delirium, he rose from his bed and rushed to the creek, which 
was near by, plunged in, and was drowned before assistance 
could reach him. 

This Mr. Haynes married a daughter of Rev. Richard Mars- 
den, who prior to 1736 served long as a minister on the Cape 
Fear, and left two daughters: Margaret, who married Mr. 

iBesides the plantations here mentioned in this paper, near the lower 
Ferry were Mulberry and The Oaks, the latter being the residence of 
Mr. Swann. Mulberry was the headquarters of General Lillington while 
hemming in the British forces that occupied Wilmington. And where 
the railroad crosses the county road, one mile south of Rocky Point 
station, was Hyrneham, built by Colonel Hyrne, and famous in the early 
days of the settlement. Later, it was the birthplace of Dr. Hill. Hyrne- 
ham, like The Oaks, was built of brick, the walls nearly three feet thick. 
They were commodious and handsome residences. Farther west were 
Mt. Gallant, the home of Col. John Pugh Williams; Pleasant Hall, Wil- 
liam Davis’ residence, and Swann Point, where the old councilor John 
Swann lived. The river was crossed by Heron Bridge, and on the south 
side was Mt. Blake, the residence of the McKenzies. Being occupied 
by Major Craig, it was burned by General Lillington in 1781. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

George Burgwyn, and Mary, who became the wife of Col. Hugh 
Waddell, from which union sprang the Waddell family, so long 
and honorably known on the Cape Fear. 

Turning east from Castle Haynes and crossing the county 
road, we come to The Hermitage, the residence of the Burgwyn 
family. The founder of this family was Mr. John Burgwyn, 
an English gentleman, in olden times an opulent merchant, who 
carried on an extensive commerce between Wilmington and 
Bristol in England. He must have had fine taste, as displayed 
by the manner in which the grounds around The Hermitage 
were laid off and improved. Its fine avenues and handsomely 
arranged pleasure-grounds surpassed everything in the whole 
country round. Mr. George Burgwyn, who occupied The 
Hermitage after his father’s death, was also a gentleman of 
good taste, and devoted much attention to the decoration of the 
place, keeping it in handsome condition. 

Mr. George Burgwyn reared a numerous and highly respect- 
able family. His oldest son, Capt. J ohn Burgwyn, of the United 
States Army, was killed in battle in the Mexican War, and his 
grandson, Gen. George B. Anderson, died of a wound received 
at the Battle of Antietam. 

We will turn now westward and, crossing the county road at 
a short distance, come to Rocky Run, where lived Dr. Nathaniel 
Hill. In earlier times this place was the residence of Mr. 
Maurice Jones, whose daughter Dr. Hill married. Of the his- 
tory of this gentleman, Mr. Jones, the writer never heard much. 
But a tradition worth relating will illustrate his firmness and 
remarkable self-possession and presence of mind. He was a great 
woodsman, and in the habit of still-hunting. On one occasion 
he was creeping to shoot a deer, which was feeding at a dog- 
wood tree. When, feeling that something was dragging at one 
of his legs, he turned his head and saw that it was a large rattle- 
snake, which had struck and fastened its fangs in the buck- 
skin leggings that all huntsmen wore at that day, he deliberately 
crawled on, dragging the snake as he went. Getting within 
proper range, he fired and killed the deer, then, turning, killed 
the snake. 

Dr. Nathaniel Hill was sent to Scotland when he was quite 
young, where he was placed with an apothecary. Having com- 
pleted a full term at this business, he entered the medical col- 
lege at Edinburgh, where he remained until he had completed 
his medical course. Returning home before he was quite of age, 

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he entered actively upon the practice of his profession at Wil- 
mington. Full of energy and earnestness, with remarkable 
sagacity and decision, he very soon acquired the confidence of 
the community. His reputation was established and not sur- 
passed in the whole Cape Fear region. 

After a laborious and lucrative practice of twenty-five years, 
Dr. Hill retired with an independent estate to Rocky Run, 
where he had built a comfortable and commodious house. Here, 
before the prime of his life was over and in the full vigor of 
manhood, he took up his abode and for many years dispensed a 
liberal hospitality to a large circle of friends and relatives. 

On the first day of J anuary of each year, that being Dr. Hill’s 
birthday, a numerous party of friends and relatives always as- 
sembled at Rocky Run to celebrate the event with feasting and 
good cheer. Then it was that those fine deer hunts came off, 
which were so skillfully conducted that they were invariably 
successful. The standers were judiciously placed, and the 
bringing down of the game depended on their skill as marks- 
men. In the management of these hunts, the guests, whether old 
or young, were invariably placed at the best stands, the doctor 
taking the chances as they might arrive for himself. He always 
carried a long flint-and-steel single-barrel silver-mounted gun, 
and it was not often that he failed to bring down the deer 
coming fairly by him within one hundred yards. Many a day 
of sport has the writer enjoyed with this noble old gentleman at 
his fine old seat. Most systematic and punctual in his habits, 
invariably as we rose from the breakfast table (8 o’clock in 
winter) the driver was waiting with horses and dogs, eager for 
the drive, and as punctually we returned by 2 o’clock, the dinner 
hour, as the family were never kept waiting. 

The old Rocky Run mansion was destroyed by fire many 
years since, and the plac,e has shared the fate of all others on 
the Northeast and fallen into stranger hands. 

The next two places below on the river were Rose Hill, the 
residence of the Quince family, and Rock Hill, of the Davises, 
two rather inconsiderable and inferior rice plantations. The 
Quinces were among the earliest of the gentry settlers on the 
Cape Fear. I have heard an old story related about a Mr. 
Parker Quince, somewhat characteristic, I presume, of himself 
and his times. It seems that he was a merchant and quite a 
trafficker. In sending an order for goods on one occasion to 
London (from whence most all importations were made) a 

74 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

dozen cheeses were included and several gross of black tacks. 
Instead of the cheeses, they sent a dozen English chaises, and 
for the tacks there was sent an immense number of black jacks, 
as they were called, a kind of japanned-tin drinking mug; his 
correspondent apologizing for not completing the order as to the 
cups, as he had bought up all that could he found in the shops 
of London. Mr. Quince either spelled badly or wrote illegibly, 
probably a little of both. 

There was one of the Quinces, who, for some family reason 
or other, adopted the name of Hasell — William Soranzo 
Hasell. 1 He was much esteemed and the intimate friend of 
many of the gentlemen of his day. When party politics ran 
high between the old Federalists and Republicans he edited a 
paper called The Minerva > advocating the principles of the 
Federal party, and was well sustained and caressed by his 
friends. He must have been a man of fine literary taste, judg- 
ing from the number of old volumes of the best English litera- 
ture with his name and coat of arms inscribed on them, which 
I have come across in the old libraries. 

Rock Hill was handsomely located on a bluff commanding a 
fine view of the river. It was in olden times the residence of 
Mr. Jehu Davis, and more lately of Mr. Thomas J. Davis, his 
son. The name of Davis, both in early and later times on the 
Cape Fear, has always been associated with all that was highly 
respectable and honorable, and it has been most eminently sus- 
tained in the person of Hon. George Davis, of Wilmington, and 
the late Bishop Davis, of South Carolina. 

Proceeding farther down, but not immediately on the river, 
was once a place known as Hesces Creek, on a creek of that 
name, which before the Revolution was the residence of Arthur 
Mabson, Esq., a gentleman noted for his great energy and indus- 
try, by which he had accumulated a considerable estate, but he 
died the first year of the war, at the early age of forty. This 
place was long ago abandoned, and I do not suppose there is a 
vestige of its improvements left. 

Crossing Hesces Creek and going a mile or so farther on, we 
come to where once stood Fair Fields, also gone totally to ruin. 
Here lived Mr. John Hill, a gentleman of note in his day, fre- 
quently representing the county in the Legislature. He had 
been a soldier in the Revolution, entered the army while quite 

*He took the name of his mother, who was Susannah Hasell, a grand- 
daughter of Chief Justice Hasell. 

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young, and served with General Greene in his southern cam- 

Passing on, we come to Sans Souci. Of the early history of 
this place the writer knows nothing. Por many years past it 
has been the residence of the late Mr. Arthur J. Hill. 

Crossing Smith’s Creek, we come to Hilton. This was the 
residence of Cornelius Harnett, Esq., and the old mansion was 
erected by him. It is not surprising that this point should have 
attracted the admiration of those who first selected it and built 
upon it. A fine bluff, near the junction of Smith’s Creek with 
the river, it has a commanding and extensive view up and down 
the stream. Although much out of repair and the grounds 
mutilated by the deep cut of a railroad passing through them, 
it is still the most attractive spot near the city of Wilmington. 

Cornelius Harnett was about the most noted and conspicuous 
personage of his day in the whole Cape Fear region. No man 
more entirely commanded the confidence and admiration of the 
community in which he lived. 

Either on account of feeble health or advanced life, Mr. 
Harnett was not an active participant as a soldier in the War 
of the Revolution; both heart and means were nevertheless en- 
listed in the cause, and after Wilmington was occupied by the 
British, he was wrested from a sick bed and confined in their 
prison, where he died in consequence of their harsh and brutal 

Mr. Harnett, I believe, left no descendants, and in after times 
Hilton became the property and the residence of William H. 
Hill, Esq. This gentleman was said to have possessed fine 
qualities of both head and heart. Genial of temper and fond of 
conviviality, he attracted many friends around him, and was 
always the life of his company. He was a leading spirit among 
the gentlemen of the Federal party, when politics ran high, and 
represented the Wilmington district in Congress during the 
administration of the elder Adams. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 


In McKee’s valuable Life and Correspondence of James Ire- 
dell , that gifted Wilmingtonian says: 

“Mr. Hooper was nine year Mr. Iredell’s senior, and already 
a man of mark at the bar and in the Assembly. To estimate at 
its full value his deference to Iredell, these facts must be borne 
in mind. Mr. Hooper was a native of Boston, and a graduate 
of Cambridge, Mass. After studying law with James Otis, he 
removed to North Carolina, in 1764. He became a citizen of 
Wilmington. That town and its vicinity was noted for its un- 
bounded hospitality and the elegance of its society. Men of 
rare talents, fortune, and attainment, united to render it the 
home of politeness, and ease, and enjoyment. Though the foot- 
print of the Indian had, as yet, scarcely been effaced, the higher 
civilization of the Old World had been transplanted there, and 
had taken vigorous root. There were Col. John Ashe (subse- 
quently General Ashe), the great popular leader, whose address 
was consummate, and whose quickness of apprehension seemed 
intuition, the very Rupert of debate ; Samuel Ashe, of stalwart 
frame, endowed with practical good sense, a profound knowl- 
edge of human nature, and an energy that eventually raised him 
to the bench and the post of governor; Harnett, afterwards 
president of the Provincial Council, ‘who could boast a genius 
for music and a taste for letters,’ the representative man of the 
Cape Pear; Dr. John Eustace, the correspondent of Sterne, ‘who 
united wit, and genius, and learning, and science’ ; Col. Thomas 
Boyd ‘gifted with talents, and adorned with classical literature’ ; 
Howe (afterwards General Howe), ‘whose imagination fasci- 
nated, whose repartee overpowered, and whose conversation was 
enlivened by strains of exquisite raillery’; Dr. John Pergus, of 
stately presence, with velvet coat, cocked hat, and gold-headed 
cane, a graduate of Edinburgh, and an excellent Latin and 
Greek scholar ; William Pennington, comptroller of the customs 
and afterwards master of the ceremonies at Bath, ‘an elegant 
writer, admired for his wit, and his highly polished urbanity’ ; 
Judge Maurice Moore, of ‘versatile talents, and possessed of 
extensive information, as a wit, always prompt in reply; as an 
orator, always daring the mercy of chance’ ; Maclaine, irascible, 
but intellectual, who trod the path of honor early pari passu 
with Iredell, Hooper, and Johnston, and ‘whose criticisms on 

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Shakespeare would, if they were published, give him fame and 
rank in the republic of letters’ ; William Hill, ‘a most sensible, 
polite gentleman, and though a Crown officer, replete with senti- 
ments of general liberty, and warmly attached to the cause of 
American freedom’ ; Lillington, destined soon at Moore’s Creek 
to render his name historic; James Moore, subsequently ap- 
pointed a brigadier general, whose promises of a brilliant 
career were soon to be terminated by a premature death ; Lewis 
Henry DeRosset, member of the Council, a cultivated and ele- 
gant gentleman ; Adam Boyd, editor of the Cape Fear Mercury 
(subsequently chaplain to the Continental Line), ‘who, without 
pretensions to wit or humor, possessed the rare art of telling a 
story with spirit and grace, and whose elegiac numbers afforded 
a striking contrast to the vivid brilliancy of the scenes in which 
he figured’ ; Alfred Moore, subsequently an associate justice of 
the Supreme Court of the United States ; Timothy Bloodworth, 
stigmatized by his enemies as an impracticable radical, ‘every- 
thing by turns,’ but withal a true exponent of the instincts and 
prejudices, the finest feelings and the noblest impulses of the 
masses. These were no ordinary men. They were of the remark- 
able class that seem ever to be the product of crises in human 
affairs. Though inferior to many of them in the influence that 
attends years, opulence, and extensive connections, yet in schol- 
arship and genius, Mr. Hooper was preeminent. I use the word 
genius in contradistinction to talent. He had much nervous irri- 
tability, was imaginative and susceptible. With a well-disci- 
plined mind, and of studious habits, he shone with lustre when- 
ever he pleased to exert himself.” 

To the above we add the name of Lieut. Thomas Godfrey, 
who, having served in the war against the French at the Uorth 
in the Pennsylvania forces, moved from Philadelphia and 
settled in Wilmington. He possessed the creative faculty in an 
eminent degree and many of his poems have remarkable beauty. 
The writer has been fortunate enough to secure a copy of his 
poetical works, prefaced by some account of the author and his 
writings. This volume was published in Philadelphia in 1765 
and contains about two hundred and fifty pages. Its publica- 
tion could only be made by subscription, and of the two hun- 
dred and sixty subscribers it is gratifying to observe that 
twenty-four were Uorth Carolinians. Their names are given 
as follows: William Bartram, jr., James Bailey, William 

Campbell, Alexander Chapman, Robert Cochran, William 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Davis, Col. Caleb Grainger, Benjamin Heron, Alexander Dun- 
can, Walter DuBois, Cornelius Harnett, Obediah Holt, Robert 
Johnson, Col. James Moore, Archibald Maclaine, Archibald 
McDuffie, Alexander Martin, Mrs. Anne ETissfield, William 
Purviance, J ohn Robeson, Robert Schaw, Patrick Stewart, 
James Stewart, and William Watkins. Hearly all of these 
names are familiar to ns, and it is apparent that the poet was 
appreciated during his life in Wilmington and numbered among 
his friends men of the first consequence in our community, 
doubtless having congenial associations with Harnett, Maclaine, 
Moore, and others of like distinction. 

The rare old volume, yellowed by age and procured only after 
years of search, says: “Mr. Thomas Godfrey, the Author of 

the following Poems, was born in Philadelphia, in the year 
1736. His Pather, who was of the same name, was a Glazier 
by trade, and likewise a Citizen of Philadelphia — a person 
whose great natural capacity for Mathematics has occasioned 
his name to be known in the learned world, being (as has been 
heretofore shown by undeniable evidences) the original and real 
inventor of the very useful and famous Sea-Quadrant, which 
has been called Pladley’s. He died when his son was very 
young and left him to the care of his Relations, by whom he 
was placed to an English school, and there received ‘a common 
education in his mother tongue’ ; and without any other advan- 
tage than that, a natural genius, and an attentive perusal of the 
works of our English Poets, he soon exhibited to the world the 
strongest proofs of poetical capacity.” 

Besides his talent for poetry, he is said to have possessed a 
fine ear for music and a strong inclination towards painting, 
desiring to have lessons in the latter; but his relatives had 
other plans, and his biographer, continuing, says: “He was 

put to a watch-maker in this city, but still the muses and 
graces, poetry and painting stole his attention. He devoted 
therefore all his private hours to the cultivation of his parts, 
and towards the expiration of his time he composed those per- 
formances that were published with so much favorable notice.” 
At length he quitted the business of watch-making and got 
himself recommended for a lieutenant’s commission in the 
Pennsylvania forces, raised in the year 1758, for the expedi- 
tion against Port DuQuesne, in which station he continued 
until the campaign was over and the provincial troops dis- 

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The succeeding spring he had an offer made him of settling 
as a factor in North Carolina, and, being unemployed, he ac- 
cepted the proposal and presently embarked for Wilmington, 
where he lived more than three years. In Wilmington he com- 
pleted the dramatic poem the Prince of Parthia , as appears by 
a letter dated November 17, 1759. “By the last vessel from 
this place,’ 7 says Godfrey in this letter, “I sent you the copy of 
a Tragedy I finished here, and desired your interest in bringing 
it on the stage. I have not yet heard of the vessel’s arrival, and 
believe, if she is safe, it will be too late for the Company now at 
Philadelphia.” He was but twenty-two years of age when this 
drama was completed. 

On the death of his employer, Godfrey left North Carolina 
and returned to Philadelphia; but finding no advantageous 
opening there he determined to make another voyage abroad, 
and procuring some small commissions went as a supercargo to 
the island of New Providence, where he was for some months. 
Prom New Providence, led as it were by some sad fatality, he 
sailed once more to Wilmington, North Carolina, “where, a few 
weeks after his arrival,” says his biographer, “he was unex- 
pectedly summoned to pay the debt of nature, and death put a 
stop to his earthly wanderings by hurrying him off this shadowy 
state into boundless eternity. He happened one very hot day 
to take a ride into the country, and not being accustomed to this 
exercise and of a corpulent habit of body, it is imagined that 
the heat overcame him, for the night following he was seized 
with a violent vomiting and malignant fever, which continued 
seven or eight days, and at 10 o’clock a. m., on the third of 
August, 1763, put a period to his life in the twenty-seventh year 
of his age. 

“Thus hastily was snatched off in the prime of manhood this 
promising genius, beloved and lamented by all who knew him. 
His sweet, amiable disposition, his integrity of heart, his en- 
gaging modesty and diffidence of manners, his fervent and dis- 
interested love for his friends endeared him to all those who 
shared his acquaintance and have stamped the image of him in 
indelible characters on the hearts of his more intimate friends.” 
He was interred in the burial ground attached to St. James’s 
Church in Wilmington and a tombstone marks the spot. 

McBee, referring to him in his Imperfect Sketch of the His- 
tory of the Town of Wilmington , published in the Wilmington 
Chronicle of September 16, 1846, says: “He wrote several 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

pieces descriptive of the vicinity where he dwelt. One was on 
Masonboro Sound, and possessed great beauty, being remarkable 
for its felicity of diction and thought and its graphic excellence. 
“The verses of this poet,” he adds, “were once greatly in vogue 
in the neighborhood in which he selected a home and found 
friends warm and steady; and there were but few gentlemen 
who could not repeat from memory some passages from his pen.” 
His works were first published by the American Magazine , 
and later some were copied in the English magazines. His 
American publishers gave the highest praise to his efforts and 
were also much interested in proclaiming his father’s genius. 
“Nature,” say they, “seems not to have designed the father for 
a greater mathematician than the son for a poet.” In publish- 
ing his Court of Fancy in 17 62, they say : “What shall place 

him high in the lists of poets is a poem of considerable length 
called the Court of Fancy , in managing which he shines in all 
the spirit of true creative poetry.” 

His last publication, The Victory, which is designated as a 
“nervous and noble song of triumph,” appeared in the Pennsyl- 
vania Gazette in 1763. The Prince of Parthia is regarded as 
the first attempt in America at dramatic composition, and is 
spoken of as “no inconsiderable effort towards one of the sub- 
limest species of poetry, and no mean instance of the author’s 
strong inherited genius.” Of his published writings his biog- 
rapher says: “Upon the whole, I persuade myself that the 

severest critic, looking over smaller matters, will allow these 
writings of Mr. Godfrey to be aptly characterized in the follow- 
ing lines from the Court of Fancy: 

‘Bold Fancy’s hand th’ amazing pile uprears, 

In every part stupendous skill appears; 

In beautiful disorder, yet complete, 

The structure shines irregularly great.’ ” 


It is to he much regretted that so few memorials of the social 
and intellectual life of the old Cape Fear people have been pre- 
served. They enjoyed the elegance that attends wealth and 
they possessed libraries that bespeak culture. 

When Edward Moseley was passing through Charleston in 
1703, he was employed to make a catalogue of the library books 
there; and, on locating in Albemarle, he at once began the col- 

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lection of a library. Later, he presented a library to the town 
of Edenton. When, about 1135, he removed to Rocky Point 
and built Moseley Hall, he brought his library with him. 

But perhaps superior to Moseley’s was the library of Eleazar 
Allen, at Lillipnt. The inventory of this collection of books has 
been preserved. Made at his death, about 1749, it shows over 
three hundred volumes in English and Latin, including the 
standard works of that era — the classics, poetry, history, works 
of fiction, as well as works of a religions nature; and, besides, 
some fifty in French, not only histories, travels, poetry, and 
fiction, but also French translations of the most celebrated Latin 
authors. One finds in that atmosphere a culture unsurpassed 
elsewhere in America. 

The Hasells likewise had a good library; also Judge Maurice 
Moore; and Gen. John Ashe had one he prized so highly that 
he made special efforts to preserve it, but unfortunately it was 
destroyed during the last year of the Revolutionary War. 

While there were libraries at the homes of the gentlemen in 
the country, at Wilmington there was the Cape Fear Library, 
one volume of which, at least, has been preserved — a volume of 
Shakespeare, with notes made by Archibald Maclaine, of Wil- 
mington, a nephew of the historian Mosher, which are of un- 
usual merit. Many of the Rocky Point books appear to have 
been collected at Lillington Hall, and others have been preserved 
in the Hasell collection. A part of the Hasell collection, em- 
bracing books of Moseley printed before 1700, of Alexander 
Lillington, and of others, has been placed in the State Library 
at Raleigh. 


(Extracts from an address delivered by Mr. John Jay Blair before the North 
Carolina Society of Colonial Dames at Brunswick, N. C.) 

I have selected for my subject the governors who resided here 
on the Cape Fear, with a view to the formulating of a connected 
story of their respective administrations, together with a refer- 
ence to events in the province which are of sufficient importance 
to have any bearing upon its life. 

On the 25th of February, 1731, Burrington, who had just 
arrived in the colony, took the oath of office before the Council, 
assembled at Edenton. 

Probably the fairest estimate of Burrington is that given by 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

William Saunders in his prefatory notes to the third volume 
of the Colonial Records: “Historians have fallen into grave 

errors in regard to Governor Burrington. They go on to state, 
hut upon what evidence is not known, that he ended his life 
after rioting in his usual manner all night in the Bird Cage 
Walk in the corner of St. James’s Park in London; and the 
impression is created that his disgraceful death occurred soon 
after his return to London. The statement is certainly untrue 
in several material points. Precisely when he returned to Eng- 
land does not appear, but from an entry in the journal of the 
Board of Trade it is shown that he was there on the 10th of 
June, 1735. Other entries and communications show that he 
was in frequent communication from that time until Decem- 
ber, 1736, after which no reference is made to him.” 

That he was a man of violent temper, of a contentious dispo- 
sition, overhearing and domineering towards his subordinates 
is sustained without question by the historical records of the 
times. It is known that he was ordered to appear before the 
court and that three distinct warrants for his arrest were issued. 
The papers, however, were never served, an entry having been 
made on the court record that the indictment was quashed. It 
is said that he escaped from the colony on a pretext of visiting 
South Carolina, but sailed for England immediately upon 
reaching Charleston. 

What, then, in view of all the conflicting statements, is the 
real character of Burrington? 

1. Previously he had been governor of the province under the 
Lords Proprietors, his reappointment serving as undoubted evi- 
dence of his ability. 

2. His official papers are well written and show an intimate 
knowledge of the country and of measures best adapted to pro- 
mote its development. 

3. He is known to have been a scientist of considerable abil- 
ity, having made a study of the animal and vegetable life of the 
Cape Fear. 

4. Considerable attention was given by him to making sound- 
ings and surveying rivers and harbors in the interest of naviga- 

At this point an extract from some of his letters can he in- 
troduced with propriety: “Horth Carolina was little known or 
mentioned before I was governor for the Proprietors (1725). 
When I first came I found the inhabitants few and poor. I 

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took all methods I thought would induce people from other 
countries to settle themselves in this. Perfecting a settlement 
on the Cape Fear River cost me a great sum of money and 
infinite trouble. I endured, the first winter I spent there, all 
the hardships that could happen to a man destitute of a house 
to live in; that was above a hundred miles from a neighbor in 
a pathless country and was obliged to have all provisions brought 
by sea at a great expense to support the number of men I carried 
there, paid, and maintained at my sole expense. 

“It can hardly he imagined what pains I took sounding the 
inlets, bars, and rivers of this province, which I performed no 
less than four times. I discovered and made known the chan- 
nels of the Cape Fear River and Port Beaufort and Topsail 
Inlet, before unused and unknown. In attempting these and 
other discoveries by land and water, I often ran the hazard of 
drowning and starving; and never retained any other reward 
or gratification hut the thanks of two assemblies in this country 
for all the pains I took and the money I expended in carrying 
on and completing these enterprises.” 

In the light of history, Burrington, then, must stand out as 
a man of ability, hut possessing grievous faults of such a nature 
as to disqualify him for the position which he occupied. One 
writer says he was a wiser ruler than his predecessor, Everard, 
and possessing no more faults ; he was, too, to say the least, as 
wise as his successor, Gabriel Johnston, and no more arbitrary. 

Events of Burrington’s administration : 

1. Marking the boundary line between North Carolina and 

2. Laying out roads, building bridges, and establishing fer- 
ries. From Edenton to Wilmington a road was run nearly two 
hundred miles, with three long ferries to cross. 

The next administration, that of Gabriel Johnston, beginning 
in 1731 and extending over a period of nearly twenty years, 
was marked by many incidents and events which had important 
and vital bearing upon the future destiny of the colony. 

The fact that Gabriel Johnston had resided upon the Cape 
Fear is not generally recognized. His immediate place of resi- 
dence and incidents connected with his life have both been ob- 
scured and subordained by matters of graver importance. 

He has come down to us with the reputation of having done 
more to promote the prosperity of the colony than all the other 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

colonial governors put together. One historian says he deserves 
the gratitude of every citizen of the State ; another lands him as 
a benefactor, a paragon of learning and of education; another 
states that he was the ablest of all the colonial governors. As a 
mark of honor a noted fort and a county in the State have 
borne his name. 

An incident in his administration which can properly be 
introduced here, is a record of events which led to the removal 
of the county seat from Brunswick to Wilmington. The legis- 
lative records show that the discussion extended over a long 
period of time, but was finally accomplished during his admin- 
istration, the name Wilmington being given to the new seat of 
government in honor of his patron, Spencer Compton, Earl of 
Wilmington and Viscount Pevensey. The records show his 
course in this matter to have been harsh and arbitrary. 

In one of his letters to the Board of Trade, he discloses some 
interest in the country’s industrial progress. He condemns the 
method of manufacturing tar, encourages the raising of hemp, 
refers to the colonists planting mulberries for the raising of raw 
silks and cultivating the vine for the production of wines. He 
refers to the making of oil from the olive and from nuts and 
seeds which grow spontaneously here, and says the collector’s 
books show that forty-two ships were loaded from the Cape Fear 
within twelve months. A letter from the Board of Trade in 
reply to this says : “When you mentioned forty-two ships that 

went from the Cape Fear River, you ought to have sent us a 
more particular account thereof, as likewise what the said ships 
were loaded with. It is with pleasure we read the account you 
have given us of the people settled on the Cape Fear River.” 

Events of Johnston’s administration: 

1. A fort built as a protection against the Spaniards on the 
south bank of the Cape Fear, and called in honor of the Gov- 
ernor, Fort Johnston. 

2. A printing press was imported into the province from 
Virginia by James Davis. 

3. In 1749 emigrants from Scotland flocked to the Cape Fear. 

4. In 1752, September 2 was reckoned the 14th, omitting 
eleven days. 

5. In 1738, the division of the province into three counties, 
Albemarle, Bath, and Clarendon, was abolished, the precincts 
now being called counties, with a sheriff appointed for each. 

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6. In 1740, England having declared war against Spain, 400 
men were raised in the colony. 

7. The population of North Carolina at the beginning of 
Johnston’s administration was nearly 50,000 in all, and at the 
close about 90,000. 

8. Records show that emigrants followed the streams in 
forming their settlements, searching for “bottom lands.” 

The next governor appointed by the Crown was Arthur 
Dobbs, who arrived in New Bern in the fall of 1754 and as- 
sumed control of the government. 

His term of office is known to have been marked by consid- 
erable contention and discord, frequently on matters which were 
frivolous and unimportant. 

For the greater part of his life he resided at Brunswick and 
in the Old Town Creek settlement. Numerous allusions were 
made in his letters to the building of churches in Brunswick and 

Without some extended reference to St. Philip’s Church and 
the related ecclesiastical status of the colony during Burrington’s 
and Dobbs’s administrations this record would be incomplete. 

In a letter to the bishop of London, April 23, 1734, John 
LaPierre writes from “New Hanover, alias Cape Fear,” “I was 
the first minister of the Church of England that came to these 
places to preach, which I did during three years and a half.” 

In a letter of July 7, 1735, Richard Marsden wrote to the 
bishop of London: “I have been at Cape Fear near seven 

years, and can truly say that I have from my heart and soul 
done my utmost to promote the glory of God.” 

On April 7, 1760, during Dobbs’s term of office, the church 
wardens and vestry “begged to recommend Rev. John Mc- 
Dowell as a good minister of the Church of England, who has 
been in this province since 1754, and officiated in our neighbor- 
ing parish of St. James until May, 1757, and the next year in 
Brunswick and Wilmington, and from that time our minister 
in this parish. 

“We are building a very large brick church, which is near 
done, and hope soon to have a glebe, hut at present we are a poor 
parish, very heavily taxed on occasion of the present war with 
the French and Indians, therefore can’t afford to give a compe- 
tency so as to maintain him and his young family in a decent 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

An extract from a letter of the Bev. John McDowell in 1760, 
to the bishop of London, gives the following information : 
“Nothing can give me greater pleasure than to hear that my 
conduct is approved, I have been south as far as the borders 
of South Carolina assembling a great number of people from 
both provinces, and we were obliged to assemble under the shady 
trees. I baptized one day on that visit thirty-two children and 
adults, among them five free mulattoes. 

“It is impossible for me to live here where my salary is so 
small and everything so dear. I could not have continued so 
long had I not had some fortune with my wife, which, if I 
continue here much longer, must go. I was obliged to sell a 
slave last year to help us to subsist, though no persons ever 
lived in a more frugal manner.’ 7 

April 15, 1760, Governor Dobbs recommended McDowell 
fixed in this parish: “I therefore join with them in these 

applications, as it is the parish I reside in, and propose when 
the church is finished, which is now roofing, to be His Majesty’s 
chapel in this government, to which he has been pleased to give 
the communion plate, surplice, and furniture for the communion 
table and pulpit, Bible and Common Prayer-books, to have the 
service performed with decency. This church will be the larg- 
est and most complete in this province, and may be an exemplar 
for building other churches.” 

April 17, 1760, McDowell writes : “It is with great pleasure 
that I can acquaint society that my parishioners of Brunswick 
have a fine large church, by far the largest in the province, in 
great forwardness — the brickwork is done and a great part of 
the roof up. We hope to have the church covered and fit for 
the purpose of divine service this ensuing summer, and a par- 
sonage house to be actually built and a glebe purchased for me. 

“His Excellency, Governor Dobbs, will put up a pew for 
himself, a chancel-rail, a pulpit, and a reading desk; and will 
give a carpet for the communion table, plate and linen for the 
communion service, and a surplice for the minister.” This 
was his seventh year of service. 

April 16, 1761, McDowell writes: “The roof of the new 

church at Brunswick is all fallen down again. It was struck 
with lightning last July, and afterwards a prodigious and im- 
moderate amount of rain falling on it made it all tumble down ; 
and there it lies just as it fell; the chapel is a most miserable 
old house, only 24 by 12, and every shower or blast of wind 
blows through it.” 

Permanent Settlement 


The principal event of Dobbs’s administration was the acces- 
sion, in 1761, of George III. to the throne. 

Mr. Haywood, in the preface of his book on Governor Tryon, 
makes the following suggestive observation : a Ever since I have 
learned to rely more upon documentary evidence than upon the 
individual opinions of writers, I have been convinced that his- 
tory has dealt too harshly with the memory of Governor Tryon.” 

Governor Tryon was born in the handsome family residence 
in Surrey in the year 1729. He arrived in the province at Cape 
Fear on Wednesday, October 10, 1764, and next day waited on 
Governor Dobbs, who had already been apprised of his coming. 
Dobbs refused to relinquish the office at once, which was a bitter 
disappointment to Tryon, who wanted to put into immediate 
effect the policies which he had outlined. 

The Governor’s mansion being still in possession of the in- 
cumbent in office, Tryon experienced great inconvenience in 
securing accommodations for himself and his family, who ac- 
companied him. 

The venerable Governor Dobbs was destined never to leave 
Horth Carolina, for, on the 28th of March following, death 
brought relief to the aged ruler, and when his remains were laid 
to rest on the Town Creek Plantation, there being not a clergy- 
man within a hundred miles of Brunswick, the burial service 
had to be conducted by a justice of the peace. 

One of the first official acts of Governor Tryon was to arrange 
for the establishment of a seat of government at Hew Bern, 
with the result that the town began to prosper. 

The third session of the Legislature having met on the 3d 
of May, after a short encomium on his predecessor’s administra- 
tion, he advised the houses to improve the hour of tranquillity in 
promoting the internal polity of the province, making the fol- 
lowing recommendations: “The establishment of a clergyman 

in each parish, whose salary should be paid out of the public 
treasury. * That they reflect upon the present state of the 
Church that it might no longer suffer from so great neglect ; that 
provision be made to enable the postmaster general to establish 
a line of post roads through the province of Horth Carolina,, 
also a committee appointed to contract for conveying the mail 
from Suffolk, Va., to South Carolina. 

The most noteworthy event of this decade was the passage by 
Parliament of the notorious Stamp Act. An attempt on the 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

part of the Governor was made to pacify the people of Wil- 
mington, but their opposition to the Stamp Act was persistent, 
and on the 26th of June, the mayor, recorder, and aldermen of 
Wilmington presented an address to Governor Try on congratu- 
lating him on its repeal and on the happy prospect of the union 
and harmony thereby established between the colony and the 
mother country. 

“In 1767, on the rise of the Legislature,” says Martin, “Gov- 
ernor Try on lost no time in carrying into effect his darling 
scheme of building a palace, having exerted all his influence to 
obtain the passage of the bill for its erection. This measure 
was thought by many to have laid the foundation of the series 
of disorders and commotions which terminated in the Battle of 
Alamance. However, it afforded him an opportunity of leaving 
behind an elegant monument of his taste in building and giving 
the ministry an instance of his great influence. For the plan 
of a governor’s house was substituted that of a palace worthy of 
the residence of a prince of the blood. The purchase of the 
ground and the erection of the foundation absorbed the sum 
which the Legislature had been pleased to bestow, which was 
an ample appropriation for the completion of the building.” 

The -last years of colonial rule, under Gov. Josiah Martin, 
were filled with incidents of thrilling and dramatic interest. 
A dark cloud of uncertainty and doubt seemed to hang over the 
destinies of our country. This period can not be passed over 
without reference to an event of such momentous import and 
immortal significance as to deserve forever a place upon the 
banner of our Commonwealth. I refer to the date, April 12, 
1776, and the accompanying resolution: 

“Resolved, That the delegates of this colony in the Continental Con- 
gress be empowered to concur with the delegates of the other colonies 
in declaring independence.” 

After a period of nearly two hundred years the flag which 
had been planted on the coast of Horth Carolina began to wane, 
the unfitness of England to govern her colonies had become 
more and more obvious, and amid the commotions and excite- 
ment of an indignant nation an American independence was at 
last asserted by the people of Mecklenburg. So this dramatic 
chapter can be closed with a sentence from J ones’s Memorials of 
North Carolina: “It is curious to observe that the annals of a 

Permanent Settlement 


single State should contribute the two great events in the history 
of the present age — the alpha and omega of the dominion of 
England over her old North American colonies. 7 ’ 


(Compiled by the North Carolina Historical Commission.) 

Borough Members from Wilmington. 

1739 (40)4740 

William Parris 


William Farris 


William Parris 


Thomas Clark 

1746 (47)4754 

Lewis DeRosset 
Cornelius Harnett 


Cornelius Harnett 


Cornelius Harnett 


Cornelius Harnett 

1762 (April) 

Cornelius Harnett 

1762 (November) 

Cornelius Harnett 


Cornelius Harnett 


Cornelius Harnett 


Cornelius Harnett 


Cornelius Harnett 

1773 (January) 

Cornelius Harnett 


Cornelius Harnett 


Cornelius Harnett 

New Hanover County 



John Swann 
Job Howe 
Maurice Moore 


Maurice Moore 
John Swann 


Nathaniel Moore 
John Swann 


John Swann 
Maurice Moore 


John Swann 
George Moore 


Samuel Swann 
Rufus Marsden 
John Swann 


Rufus Marsden 
John Swann 
John Ashe 


George Moore 
John Ashe 


George Moore 
John Ashe 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 


George Moore 
John Ashe 

1762 (April) 

George Moore 
John Ashe 

1762 (November) 

John Ashe 

Alexander Lillington 


John Ashe 
James Moore 


John Ashe 
James Moore 


John Ashe 
James Moore 


John Ashe 
James Moore 

1773 (January) 

John Ashe 
James Moore 


John Ashe 
William Hooper 


John Ashe 
William Hooper 

Borough Members from Wilmington. 



Francis Clayton 



Cornelius Harnett 



Cornelius Harnett 
Archibald Maclaine 



Cornelius Harnett 



William Hooper 

New Hanover County 




John Hooper 
William Hooper 



William Hooper 
John Ashe 



George Moore 
Alexander Lillington 
Samuel Ashe 
William Hooper 
James Moore 
John Ashe 



John Ashe 
John Devane 
Samuel Ashe 
Sampson Moseley 
John Hollingsworth 



John Ashe 

Samuel Ashe 
John Devane 
Sampson Moseley 
John Hollingsworth 

Resistance Before the Revolution 


(Extracts from an address delivered by Capt. S. A. Ashe before the North Carolina 
Society of Colonial Dames at Old Brunswick, N. C.) 

When the next year [1765] a bill was introduced to carry the 
resolution into effect, it met with considerable opposition in the 
House of Commons, for the protests of the colonists were not 
unheeded. Still, the ministry, under Lord Bute, persisted, and 
the measure was carried. All America was at once stirred. 
Bold and courageous action was taken in every colony, but in 
none was a more resolute spirit manifested than here upon the 
Cape Bear. The governor was Try on, who had but lately suc- 
ceeded to that office. He was an officer of the army, a gentle- 
man by birth and education, a man calculated by his accom- 
plishments and social qualities to shine in any community. He 
sought the speaker of the House, and asked him what would he 
the action of the people. Resistance to the death,” was the 
prompt reply. That was a warning that was full of meaning. 
It pledged the speaker to revolution and war in defense of the 
people’s rights. 

The Assembly was to meet in May, 17 65. But Tryon astutely 
postponed the meeting until November, and then dissolved the 
Assembly. He did not wish the members to meet, confer, con- 
sult, and arrange a plan of opposition. He hoped by dealing 
with gentlemen, not in an official capacity, to disarm their an- 
tagonism and persuade them to a milder course. Vain delu- 
sion ! The people had been too long trained to rely with confi- 
dence on their leaders to abandon them now, even though Par- 
liament demanded their obedience. 

The first movement was not long delayed. Within two 
months after the news had come that the odious act had been 
passed, the people of North Carolina discarded from their use 
all clothes of British manufacture and set up looms for weav- 
ing their own clothes. Since Great Britain was to oppress 
them, they would give the world an assurance of the spirit of 
independence that would sustain them in the struggle. In 
October information was received that I)r. Houston, of Duplin 
County, had been selected in England as stamp master. At 

[ 91 ] 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

once proceedings were taken to nullify the appointment. At 
that time Wilmington had less than 500 white inhabitants, hut 
her citizens were very patriotic and very resolute. 

Rocky Point, fifteen miles to the northward, had been the 
residence of Maurice Moore, Speaker Moseley, Speaker Swann, 
Speaker Ashe, Alexander Lillington, John Swann, George 
Moore, John Porter, Colonel Jones, Colonel Merrick, and other 
gentlemen of influence. It was the center from which had 
radiated the influences that directed popular movements. 
Rearer to Onslow, Duplin, and Bladen than Wilmington was, 
and the residence of the speaker and other active leaders, it was 
doubtless there that plans were considered, and proceedings 
agreed upon that involved the united action of all the neighbor- 
ing counties. At Wilmington and in its vicinity were Harnett, 
DeRosset, Toomer, Walker, Clayton, Gregg, Purviance, Eus- 
tace, Maclaine, and DuBois, while near by were Howe, Smith, 
Davis, Grange, Ancrum, and a score of others of the loftiest 
patriotism. All were in full accord with the speaker of the 
Assembly; all were nerved by the same spirit; all resolved to 
carry resistance, if need be, to the point of blood and death. 

We fortunately have a contemporaneous record of some of 
their proceedings. The North Carolina Gazette , published at 
Wilmington, in its issue of November 20, 1765, says: 

On Saturday, the 19th of last month, about 7 o’clock in the evening, 
near five hundred people assembled together in this town and exhibited 
the effigy of a certain honorable gentleman; and after letting it hang by 
the neck for some time, near the courthouse they made a large bonfire 
with a number of tar barrels, etc., and committed it to the flames. The 
reason assigned for the people’s dislike to that gentleman was from 
being informed of his having several times expressed himself much in 
favor of the stamp duty. After the effigy was consumed, they went to 
every house in town and brought all the gentlemen to the bonfire, and 
insisted on their drinking “Liberty, Property, and No Stamp Duty,” and 
“Confusion to Lord Bute and All His Adherents,” giving three huzzahs 
at the conclusion of each toast. They continued together until 12 of 
the clock, and then dispersed without doing any mischief. 

Doubtless it was a very orderly crowd, since the editor says 
so. A very orderly, harmless, inoffensive gathering; patriotic, 
and given to hurrahing ; but we are assured that they dispersed 
without any mischief. 

And continues the same paper: 

On Thursday, the 31st of the same month, in the evening, a great 
number of people assembled again, and produced an effigy of Liberty, 

Resistance Before the Revolution 


which they put in a coffin and marched in solemn procession with it to 
the churchyard, a drum in mourning beating before them, and the town 
bell, muffled, ringing a doleful knell at the same time; but before they 
committed the body to the ground, they thought it advisable to feel its 
pulse, and, finding some remains of life, they returned back to a bon- 
fire ready prepared, placed the effigy before it in a large two-armed 
chair, and concluded the evening with great rejoicings on finding that 
Liberty had still an existence in the colonies. 

Not the least injury was offered to any person. 

The editor of that paper, Mr. Stewart, was apparently anx- 
ious to let his readers know that the people engaged in these pro- 
ceedings were the very soul of order and the essence of modera- 
tion. So far they had done no mischief and offered no injury 
to any one. But still they had teeth, and they could show them. 
The next item reads: 

Saturday, the 16th of this instant, that is November: William Hous- 
ton, Esq., distributor of stamps for this province, came to this town; 
upon which three or four hundred people immediately gathered to- 
gether, with drums beating and colors flying, and repaired to the house 
the said stamp master put up at, and insisted upon knowing “Whether 
he intended to execute his said office or not.” He told them, “He should 
be very sorry to execute any office disagreeable to the people of this 
province.” *But they, not content with such declaration, carried him 
into the courthouse, where he signed a resignation satisfactory to the 
whole. They then placed the stamp master in an armchair, carried him 
around the courthouse, giving at every corner three loud huzzahs, and 
finally set him down at the door of his lodging, formed a circle around 
him, and gave three cheers. They then escorted him into the house, 
where were prepared the best liquors, and treated him very genteelly. 
In the evening a large bonfire was made and no person appeared on the 
streets without having “Liberty” in large letters on his hat. They had 
a table near the bonfire well furnished with several sorts of liquors, 
where they drank, in great form, all the favorite American toasts, giv- 
ing three cheers at the conclusion of each. 

“The whole was conducted,” says the editor, “with great 
decorum, and not the least insult offered to any person.’ 7 
This enforced resignation of the stamp master was done under 

x It is not to be inferred from Dr. Houston’s action in this matter, in 
1765, that he was in favor of taxation of the colonies by Great Britain. 
Benjamin Franklin, then the agent of several of the colonies in Lon- 
don, assumed, as a matter of course, that the Stamp Act would be oper- 
ative, and he recommended some of his friends to accept the office of 
stamp master. Dr. Houston did not apply for the appointment, and 
when the people arrayed themselves against it, he did not oppose them. 
Also, when, ten years later, the Revolution began, he was in full sym- 
pathy with other patriots in North Carolina and was a friend of inde- 
pendence and separation. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

the direction of Alderman DeRosset, who received from Hous- 
ton his commission and other papers, and necessarily it was a 
very orderly performance. The ringing huzzas, the patriotic 
toasts, the loud acclaim, echoing from the courthouse square, 
reverberated through the streets of the town, but Mr. Stewart 
is quite sure that no mischief was done, and not the least insult 
was offered to any person. These and other similar proceedings 
led the Governor to send out a circular letter to the principal in- 
habitants of the Cape Fear region, requesting their presence at 
a dinner at his residence at Brunswick on Tuesday, the 19th of 
November, three days after Dr. Houston resigned ; and after the 
dinner, he conferred with these gentlemen about the Stamp Act. 
He found them fully determined to annul the act and prevent 
its going into effect. He sought to persuade them, and begged 
them to let it be observed at least in part. He pleaded that if 
they would let the act go into partial operation in the respects he 
mentioned, he himself would pay for all the stamps necessary. 
It seems that he liked the people, and they liked and admired 
him, and difficult indeed was his position. He was charged with 
the execution of a law which he knew could not be executed, for 
there was not enough specie in the province to buy the necessary 
stamps, even if the law could be enforced ; but, then, the people 
were resolved against recognizing it in any degree. The au- 
thority of the King and of the Parliament was defied, and he, 
the representative of the British Government, was powerless in 
the face of this resolute defiance. While still maintaining dig- 
nity in his intercourse with the people, the Governor wrote to his 
superiors in London strongly urging the repeal of the law. A 
week later the stamps arrived in the sloop of war Diligence. 
They remained on the sloop and were not landed at that time. 

Now was there a lull ; but the quietude was not to remain 
unbroken. In January two merchant vessels arrived in the 
harbor, the Patience and the Dobbs. Their clearance papers 
were not stamped as the act required. The vessels were seized 
and detained while the lawfulness of their detention was re- 
ferred to Attorney General Robert Jones, then absent at his 
home on the Roanoke. But the leaders of the people were de- 
termined not to submit to an adverse decision. They held 
meetings and agreed on a plan of action. 

In view of the crisis, on J anuary 20, the mayor of the town 
retired to give place to Moses John DeRosset, who had been the 
foremost leader in the action previously taken by the town. 

Resistance Before the Revolution 


One whose spirit never quailed was now to stand forth as the 
head of the Corporation. 

On the 5th of February, Captain Lobb, in command of the 
Viper, had made a requisition for an additional supply of pro- 
visions, and Mr. Dry, the contractor, sent his boat to Wilming- 
ton to obtain them. The inhabitants, led by the mayor, at once 
seized the boat, threw the crew into the jail, and, in a wild 
tumult of excitement, placed the boat on a wagon and hauled 
it through the streets with great demonstration of fervid patriot- 
ism. The British forces on the river were to receive no supplies 
from Wilmington ; their provisions were cut off, and they were 
treated as enemies — not friends — so long as they supported the 
odious law of Parliament. Ten days later came the opinion of 
Attorney General J ones to the effect that the detained merchant- 
men were properly seized and were liable to he confiscated 
under the law. This was the signal for action. The news was 
spread throughout the counties, and the whole country was astir. 
Every patriot “was on his legs.” There was no halt in carrying 
into effect the plan agreed upon. Immediately the people be- 
gan to assemble, and detachments, under chosen leaders, took up 
their march from Onslow, Bladen, and Duplin. On the 18th 
of February, the inhabitants of the Cape Fear counties, being 
then assembled at Wilmington, entered into an association, 
which they signed, declaring they preferred death to slavery; 
and mutually and solemnly they plighted their faith and honor 
that they would at any risk whatever, and whenever called upon, 
unite, and truly and faithfully assist each other, to the best of 
their power, in preventing entirely the operation of the Stamp 

The crisis had now arrived. The hand of destiny had struck 
with a bold stroke the resounding bell. The people, nobly re- 
sponding, had seized their arms. At all times, when some 
patriot is to throw himself to the front and bid defiance to the 
established authority of government, there is a Rubicon to be 
crossed, and he who unsheathes his sword to resist the law must 
win success or meet a traitor’s doom. But the leaders on the 
Cape Fear did not hesitate at the thought of personal peril. 
At their call, the people, being armed and assembled at Wil- 
mington, chose the men who were to guide, govern, and direct 
them. They called to the helm John Ashe, the trusted speaker 
of the Assembly, and associated with him Alexander Lillington 
and Col. Thomas Lloyd, as a Directory to manage their affairs 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

at this momentous crisis. Their movement was not that of an 
irresponsible mob. It was an orderly proceeding, pursuant to a 
determined plan of action, under the direction of the highest 
officer of the province, who was charged with maintaining the 
liberties of the people. In effect, it was the institution and 
ordaining of a temporary government. 

It was resolved to organize an armed force and march to 
Brunswick, and Col. Hugh Waddell was invested with the com- 
mand of the military. Let us pause a moment and take a view 
of the situation at that critical juncture. Close to Brunswick, 
in his mansion, was Governor Tryon, the representative of the 
King ; no coward he, hut resolute, a military man of experience 
and courage. In the town itself were the residences and offices 
of Colonel Dry, the collector of the port, and of other officers 
of the Crown. Off in the river lay the detained merchant ves- 
sels and the two sloops of war, the Viper , commanded by Cap- 
tian Lobb, and the Diligence , commanded by Captain Phipps, 
whose bristling guns, 26 in number, securely kept them; while 
P ort J ohnston, some miles away, well armed with artillery, was 
held by a small garrison. At every point flew the meteor flag 
of Great Britain. Every point was protected by the aegis of His 
Sacred Majesty. For a subject to lift his hand in a hostile 
manner against any of these was treason and rebellion. Yes, 
treason and rebellion, with the fearful punishment of attainder 
and death — of being hanged and quartered. 

Well might the eloquent Davis exclaim, “Beware, John Ashe ! 
Hugh Waddell, take heed!” 

Their lives, their fortunes were at hazard and the dishonored 
grave was open to receive their dismembered bodies ! But 
patriots as they were, they did take care — not for themselves, 
but for the liberties of their country. At high noon, on the 19th 
day of February, the three directors, the mayor and other offi- 
cers of Wilmington, the embodied soldiery, and the prominent 
citizens, moved forward, crossed the river, passed like Csesar 
the fateful Bubicon, and courageously marched to the scene of 
possible conflict. It was not only the Governor with whom they 
had to deal, hut the ships of war with their formidable batteries 
that held possession of the detained vessels. It was not merely 
the penalties of the law that threatened them, hut they courted 
death at the cannon’s mouth, in conflict with the heavily armed 
sloops of war, from whose power they had come to wrest the 
merchantmen. But there was neither halt nor hesitation. 

Resistance Before the Revolution 


As they crossed the river, a chasm yawned deep and wide, 
separating them from their loyal past. Behind them they left 
their allegiance as loyal British subjects; before them was re- 
bellion — open, flagrant war, leading to revolution. Who could 
tell what the ending might be of the anticipated conflict! 

There all the gentlemen of the Cape Bear were gathered, in 
their cocked hats, their long queues, their knee-breeches, and 
shining shoe buckles. Mounted on their well-groomed horses, 
they made a famous cavalcade as they wound their way through 
the somber pine forests that hedged in the highway to old Bruns- 
wick. Among them was DeRosset, the mayor, in the prime of 
manhood, of French descent, with keen eye, fine culture, and 
high intelligence, who had been a soldier with Innes at the 
North; bold and resolved was he as he rode, surrounded by 
Cornelius Harnett, Frederick Gregg, John Sampson, and the 
other aldermen and officers of the town. 

At the head of a thousand armed men, arranged in companies 
and marching in order, was the experienced soldier, Hugh Wad- 
dell, not yet thirty-three years of age, but already renowned for 
his capacity and courage. He had won more distinction and 
honors in the late wars at the North and West than any other 
Southern soldier, save only George Washington; and now in 
command of his companies, officered by men who had been 
trained in discipline in the war, he was confident of the issue. 
Of Irish descent, and coming of a fighting stock, his blood was 
up, and his heroic soul was aflame for the fray. 

Surrounded by a bevy of his kinsmen, the venerable Sam and 
John Swann; his brothers-in-law, James, George, and Maurice 
Moore ; his brother, Sam Ashe, and Alexander Lillington, whose 
burly forms towered high above the others; by Howe, Davis, 
Colonel Lloyd, and other gallant spirits, was the speaker, John 
Ashe, now just forty-five years of age, on whom the responsi- 
bility of giving directions chiefly lay. Of medium stature, well 
knit, with olive complexion and a lustrous hazel eye, he was 
full of nervous energy — an orator of surpassing power, of ele- 
gant carriage and commanding presence. Of him Mr. Strud- 
wick has said : “That there were not four men in London his 

intellectual superior,” and that at a time when Pitt, Fox, 
Burke, and others of that splendid galaxy of British orators and 
statesmen gave lustre to British annals. 

How, on this momentous occasion, the spirits of these men 
and of their kinsmen and friends who gathered around, must 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

have soared as they pressed on, resolved to maintain the char- 
tered rights of their country ! Animated by the noble impulses 
of a lofty patriotism, with their souls elevated by the inspiring 
emotions of a perilous struggle for their liberties, they moved 
forward with a resolute purpose to sacrifice their lives rather 
than tamely submit to the oppressive and odious enactments of 
the British Parliament. 

It was nightfall before they reached the vicinity of Bruns- 
wick, and George Moore and Cornelius Harnett, riding in ad- 
vance, presented to Governor Try on a letter from the governing 
Directory, notifying him of their purpose. In a few minutes 
the Governor’s residence was surrounded, and Captain Lobb 
was inquired for, hut he was not there. A party was then dis- 
patched towards Fort Johnston, and thereupon Tryon notified 
the British naval commanders and requested them to protect the 
fort, repelling force with force. In the meantime, a party of 
gentlemen called on the collector, Mr. Dry, who had the papers 
of the ship Patience; and in his presence broke open his desk 
and took them away. This gave an earnest of the resolute pur- 
pose of the people. They purposed to use all violence that was 
necessary to carry out their designs. Realizing the full import 
of the situation, the following noon a conference of the King’s 
officers was held on the Viper , and Captain Lobb, confident of 
his strength, declared to the Governor that he would hold the 
ship Patience and insist on the return of her papers. If the 
people were resolved, so were the officers of the government. 
The sovereignty of Great Britain was to be enforced. There 
was to be no temporizing with the rebels. The honor of the 
government demanded that the British flag should not droop in 
'the face of this hostile array. But two short hours later a 
party of the insurgents came aboard and requested to see Cap- 
tain Lobb. They entered the cabin, and there, under the royal 
flag, surrounded by the King’s forces, they demanded that all 
efforts to enforce the Stamp Act cease. They would allow no 
opposition. In the presence of Ashe, Waddell, DeRosset, Har- 
nett, Moore, Howe, and Lillington, the spirit of Captain Lobb 
quailed. The people won. In the evening the British com- 
mander, much to the Governor’s disgust, reported to that func- 
tionary that “all was settled.” Yes. All had been settled. 
The vessels were released ; the grievances were redressed. The 
restrictions on the commerce of the Cape Fear were removed. 
The attempt to enforce the Stamp Act had failed before the 

Resistance Before the Revolution 


prompt, vigorous, and courageous action of the inhabitants. 
After that, vessels could come and go as if there had been no act 
of Parliament. The people had been victorious over the King’s 
ships ; with arms in their hands, they had won the victory. 

But the work was not all finished. There, on the Diligence , 
were obnoxious stamps, and by chance some loyal officer of the 
government might use them. To guard against that, the officers 
were to he forced to swear not to obey the act of Parliament, 
but to observe the will of the people. Mr. Pennington was His 
Majesty’s controller, and, understanding that the people sought 
him, he took refuge in the Governor’s mansion and was given 
a bed and made easy, but early the next morning Col. James 
Moore called to get him. The Governor interfered to prevent; 
and immediately the mansion was surrounded by the insurgent 
troops, and the Directory notified the Governor, in writing, 
that they requested His Excellency to let Mr. Pennington ap- 
pear, otherwise it would not be “in the power of the directors 
appointed to prevent the ill consequences that would attend a 
refusal.” In plain language, said John Ashe, “Persist in your 
refusal, and we will come and take him.” The Governor de- 
clined to comply. In a few moments he observed a body of 
nearly five hundred men move towards his house. A detach- 
ment of sixty entered his avenue. Cornelius Harnett accom- 
panied them and sent word that he wished to speak with Mr. 
Pennington. The Governor replied that Mr. Pennington was 
protected by his house. Harnett thereupon notified the Gov- 
ernor that the people would come in and take him out of the 
house, if longer detained. How the point was reached. The 
people were ready; the Governor was firm. But Pennington 
wisely suggested that he would resign, and immediately wrote 
his resignation and delivered it to the Governor — and then he 
went out with Harnett and was brought here to Brunswick, and 
required to take an oath never to issue any stamped paper in 
North Carolina; so was Mr. Dry, the collector; and so all the 
clerks of the County Courts, and other public officers. Every 
officer in all that region, except alone the Governor, was forced 
to obey the will of the people and swear not to obey the act of 

On the third day after the first assemblage at Wilmington, 
on the 18th, the directors, having completed their work at 
Brunswick, took up the line of march to return. With what 
rejoicing they turned their hacks on the scene of their blood- 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

less triumph. It had been a time of intense excitement. It had 
been no easy task to hold more than a thousand hot and zealous 
patriots well in hand, and to accomplish their purposes without 
bloodshed. Wisdom and courage by the directors, and prudence, 
foresight, and sagacity on the part of the military officers were 
alike essential to the consummation of their design. They now 
returned in triumph, their purposes accomplished. The odious 
law was annulled in North Carolina. After that, merchant ves- 
sels passed freely in and out of port, without interference. The 
stamps remained boxed on shipboard, and no further effort was 
made to enforce a law which the people had rejected. 

Two months after these events on the Cape Fear, Parliament 
repealed the law, and the news v/as hurried across the Atlantic 
in the fleetest vessels. The victory of the people was complete. 
They had annulled an act of Parliament, crushed their enemies, 
and preserved their liberties. Thus once more were the cour- 
ageous leaders of the Cape Fear, in their measures of opposition 
to encroachments on the rights of the people, sustained by the 
result. On former occasions they had triumphed over their 
governors: now, in cooperation with other provinces, they had 
triumphed over the British Ministry and the Parliament of 
Great Britain. 

While in every other province the people resolutely opposed 
the Stamp Act, nowhere else in America was there a proceeding 
similar to that which was taken at Wilmington. Nowhere else 
was the standard of Liberty committed to the care of a govern- 
ing hoard, even though its creation was for a temporary pur- 
pose; nowhere else was there an army organized, under officers 
appointed, and led to a field where a battle might have ensued. 
Had not His Majesty’s forces yielded to the will of the insur- 
gents, the American Revolution would probably have begun 
then — and here — on the soil of Old Brunswick. 


(Extracts from an address delivered by Mr. J. O. Carr before the North Carolina 
Society of Colonial Dames of America, at Old Brunswick, May 5, 1915.) 

One hundred and fifty years have elapsed since the Houston 
episode, and it is not too early to begin to do justice to the vic- 
tim; nor will it detract from the heroism of the patriots of 1765, 
who were inspired by a righteous indignation against every 
form of oppression. 

Resistance Before the Revolution 


By a careful, discriminating reading of all the subject-matter 
at our command, it will be easily seen that the indignation of 
the people of 1765 was not directed against Houston, nor 
against any conduct of bis, but against the principle of the 
British stamp tax. 

In order to get a comprehensive view of Houston as a man it 
is necessary to consider him before 1765 and after 1765. 

Houston Before 1765. 

William Houston did not live in Wilmington nor in Bruns- 
wick, but resided in Duplin County on the Northeast Biver, 
about sixty miles north of Wilmington, in a direct line. He 
was an associate of Henry McCulloch in bis attempt to colonize 
North Carolina, and was one of the original settlers who came 
to this community some time between 1737 and 1748. This 
locality was then a part of the county of New Hanover. 

Houston was a man of unusual ability and was known as an 
“honorable gentleman.” By profession be was a surgeon and 
apothecary. A tradition, too well founded in the community 
in which be lived to be seriously disputed, at least forms the 
basis for a well-established belief that royal blood flowed in bis 
veins. The General Assembly of 1749 and 1750 established 
the county of Duplin and St. Gabriel’s parish, and William 
Houston was named as a member of the vestry of that parish. 
From 1751 to 1761, inclusive, be was a member of the General 
Assembly from Duplin County, and following that date was a 
justice of the peace, along with other leading citizens of bis 
county; and in those days the office of justice of the peace was 
a position of considerable importance. 

When be was appointed stamp agent for the port of Bruns- 
wick, be was residing on his farm in Duplin County, on a high 
elevation on the Northeast River, at a place known as “So- 
racte” — so called, no doubt, from the mountain by that name in 
Italy on which was built the ancient Temple of Apollo. 

On the 19th of October, 1765, after he had been appointed 
stamp agent and notice of such appointment had reached Bruns^ 
wick direct from England, Houston was hanged in effigy in the 
town of Wilmington, the only reason given for such action be- 
ing that the several hundred citizens who participated were “in- 
formed of his having several times expressed himself much in 
favor of the stamp duty” — and it is possible that he honestly 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

favored such a tax, but there is no evidence that he favored it 
without the people’s consent. 

Again, on the 31st of October, 1765, a large number of people 
met in Wilmington and placed an effigy in a coffin and moved 
under the beat of drums to the churchyard — no doubt St. 
James’s Church — where the interment was to take place; hut 
after feeling its pulse, decided that Liberty still survived, and 
no burial took place. Also, Dr. Houston was hanged in effigy 
at Hew Bern and at Fayetteville about the same time. 

During all of these exhibitions of patriotism, Dr. Houston 
was pursuing his duties as surgeon and apothecary at “Soracte,” 
now known as “Sarecta,” and he afterwards protested that he 
had not solicited and did not even know of his appointment as 
stamp agent at the time of such demonstrations. It was not 
until Saturday, the 16th day of November, nearly a month after 
his first hanging and demise, that Dr. Houston came to town, 
where three hundred people, with drums heating and flags fly- 
ing, proceeded to his lodging-place and inquired whether he in- 
tended to execute the office of stamp agent. Without hesitation 
he informed them that he “should he sorry to execute any office 
disagreeable to the people of the province” ; and as an exhibition 
of good faith voluntarily signed the famous promise, which was 
done of his own free will and accord; and he was not even re- 
quired to take an oath, as has been generally believed. If this 
promise had been signed under force or duress, he would hardly 
have been given an ovation ; but after he had indicated his senti- 
ments on this matter there was a love feast and he was put in 
an armchair and carried around the courthouse and around one 
of the chief squares of the city of Wilmington and finally put 
down at his lodging-place. 

A careful and discriminating reading of the entire story must 
convince the thinking man that instead of a riot and a lynching 
in the city when Dr. Houston came to town, there was something 
in the nature of a banquet in his honor, on the discovery by the 
people that the sentiments of the man selected by the Crown to 
sell stamps were in harmony with theirs; and no doubt Dr. 
Houston enjoyed the eats and drinks as much as any one, though 
the drought in those days around “Soracte” was doubtless not as 
marked as it is today. 

Resistance Before the Revolution 


Houston Aftee 1765. 

The episode in Wilmington did not in any way affect the 
standing of Dr. Houston in his own county, where he was 
highly honored and respected by his fellow-citizens. In 1768 
he was appointed a justice of the peace in Duplin County, and 
likewise again in 1771. In 1777 he was chairman of the “Court 
Martial” in Duplin County, whose duties were to hunt down 
Tories and deserters and to bring to justice Americans who were 
not faithful to our cause; and together with James Kenan and 
Joseph Dickson, whose names were synonymous with patriotism 
in that community, he acted in this capacity, and as chairman 
of the commission. He continued to serve his county in public 
positions, and as late as 1784 was appointed a justice of the 
peace by Alexander Martin, in which capacity he served for 
some time thereafter. The time of his death or the place of his 
burial can not be stated with certainty, but it is thought that he 
was buried in the community in which he lived. 1 His descend- 
ants to this day have exhibited the same elements of brilliancy 
and patriotism seen in Dr. Houston. 


About half a mile to the south of Orton House, and within 
the boundary of the plantation, are the ruins of Governor Try- 
on’s residence, memorable in the history of the United States as 
the spot upon which the first overt act of violence occurred in 
the War of American Independence, nearly eight years before 
the Boston Tea Party, of which so much has been made in 
Northern history, while this colonial ruin, the veritable cradle 
of American liberty, is probably unknown to nine-tenths of the 
people of the Cape Eear at the present day. 

This place, which has been eloquently referred to by two of 
the most distinguished sons of the Cape Eear, both direct de- 

1 Since the preparation of the above paper, I have found the following 
memorandum among my historical data: “William Houston in after 

life moved from Duplin County to Tennessee and then, it is said, to 
Texas. He had a number of sons, the youngest of whom was Samuel 
Houston, who spent his life in Duplin County and was the father of 
the late Capt. William J. Houston, Mrs. George W. Carroll, Mrs. J. N. 
Stallings, and Mrs. Oates.” This information was furnished me by the 
family of Mrs. George W. Carroll. J. O. Care. 

104 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

scendants of Sir John Yeamans, the late Hon. George Davis 
and the late Hon. A. M. Waddell, and which was known as Rus- 
sellborough, was bought from William Moore, son and successor 
of “King” Roger, by Capt. John Russell, commander of His 
Britannic Majesty’s sloop of war Scorpion , who gave the tract of 
about fifty-five acres his own name. It subsequently passed into 
the possession of his widow, who made a deed of trust, and the 
property ultimately again became a part of Orton Plantation. 
It was sold March 31, 1758, by the executors of the estate of 
William Moore to the British governor and commander-in-chief, 
Arthur Dobbs, who occupied it and who sold it or gave it to his 
son, Edward Bryce Dobbs, captain of His Majesty’s Seventh 
Regiment of Foot or Royal Eusileers, who conveyed it by deed, 
dated February 12, 1767, to His Excellency, William Tryon, 
governor, etc. It appears, however, that Governor Tryon occu- 
pied this residence prior to the date of this deed, as is shown by 
the following official correspondence in 1766 with reference to 
the uprising of the Cape Fear people in opposition to the Stamp 
Act : 

Brunswick, 19 February, 1766, 

Eleven at Night. 

Sir: — Between the hours of six and seven o’clock this evening, Mr. 
Geo. Moore and Mr. Cornelius Harnett waited on me at my house, and 
delivered me a letter signed by three gentlemen. The inclosed is a copy 
of the original. I told Mr. Moore and Mr. Harnett that I had no fears 
or apprehensions for my person or property, I wanted no guard, there- 
fore desired the gentlemen might not come to give their protection 
where it was not necessary or required, and that I would send the gen- 
tlemen an answer in writing tomorrow morning. Mr. Moore and Mr. 
Harnett might stay about five or six minutes in my house. Instantly 
after their leaving me, I found my house surrounded with armed men 
to the number, I estimate, at one hundred and fifty. I had some alter- 
cation with some of the gentlemen, who informed me their business was 
to see Captain Lobb, whom they were informed was at my house; Cap- 
tain Paine then desired me to give my word and honor whether Captain 
Lobb was in my house or not. I positively refused to make any such 
declaration, but as they had force in their hands I said they might 
break open my locks and force my doors. This, they declared, they had 
no intention of doing; just after this and other discourse, they got in- 
telligence that Captain Lobb was not in my house. The majority of the 
men in arms then went to the town of Brunswick, and left a number of 
men to watch the. avenues of my house, therefore think it doubtful if I 
can get this letter safely conveyed. I esteem it my duty, sir, to inform 
you, as Fort Johnston has but one officer and five men in garrison, the 
fort will stand in need of all the assistance the Viper and Diligence 

Resistance Before the Revolution 


sloops can give the commanding officer there, should any insult be 
offered to His Majesty’s fort or stores, in which case it is my duty to 
request of you to repel force with force, and take on board His Majesty’s 
sloops so much of His Majesty’s ordnance stores and ammunition out 
of the said fort as you shall think necessary for the benefit of the 

I am, your most humble servant, Wm. Teyon. 

To the Commanding Officer, either of the Viper or Diligence sloops 
of war. 

The writer, who has made his home at Orton, had often in- 
quired for the precise location of the ruins of Governor Try on’s 
Russellborough residence without success ; but about fifteen years 
ago, acting upon Colonel Waddell’s reference to its site on the 
north of Old Brunswick, the service of an aged negro who had 
lived continuously on the plantation for over seventy years was 
engaged. He, being questioned, could not remember ever having 
heard the name Russellhorough, nor of Governor Dobbs, nor of 
Governor Try on, nor of an avenue of trees in the locality de- 
scribed. He said he remembered, however, hearing when he was 
a hoy about a man named “Governor Palace,” who lived in a 
great house between Orton and Old Brunswick. 

We proceeded at once to the spot, which is approached through 
an old field, still known as “Old Palace Field,” on the other side 
of which, on a bluff facing the east and affording a fine view of 
the river, we found hidden in a dense undergrowth of timber 
the foundation walls of Tryon’s residence. The aged guide 
showed us the well-worn carriage road of the Governor, and also 
his private path through the old garden to the river landing, a 
short distance below, on the south of which is a beautiful cove 
of white and shining sand, known, he said, in olden times, as 
the Governor’s Cove. The stone foundation walls of the house 
are about two feet above the surface of the ground. Some sixty 
years ago the walls stood from twelve to fifteen feet high, hut 
the material was unfortunately used by one of the proprietors 
for building purposes. 

The old servant pointed out a large pine tree near by, upon 
which he said had been carved in colonial times the names of 
two distinguished persons buried beneath it, and which in his 
youthful days was regarded with much curiosity by visitors. 
The rude inscription has unhappily become almost obliterated 
by several growths of hark, and the strange mysterious record 
is forever hidden by the hand of time. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

A careful excavation of this ruin would doubtless reveal some 
interesting and possibly valuable relics of Governor Tryon’s 
household. Near the surface was found, while these lines were 
being written, some fragments of blue Dutch tiling, doubtless a 
part of the interior decorations; also a number of peculiarly 
shaped bottles for the favorite sack of those days, which F alstaff 
called sherris sack, of Xeres vintage, now known as dry sherry. 

In recent years the site of Governor Tryon’s palace upon this 
spot has been marked by a substantial monument built of bricks 
and stones taken from the foundation of the building and suit- 
ably inscribed by the North Carolina Society of Colonial Dames 
of America. 


South Carolina Gazette , July 5, 1770. 

We hear that in consequence of a letter lately addressed to the 
Sons of Liberty in North Carolina, under cover to Col. James 
Moore, a meeting had been appointed, and held on the 2d of last 
month, where a number of gentlemen from the several southern 
counties in that province were chosen as a committee to meet at 
Wilmington on this day, to consult upon such measures as may 
appear most eligible for evincing their patriotism and loyalty 
in the present critical situation of affairs ; which committee are, 
Col. James Lloyd, Cornelius Harnett, Frederick Gregg, Wil- 
liam Campbell, Esq., Messrs. John Robeson and William Wil- 
kinson, for the town of Wilmington; George Moore, Frederick 
Jones, Esq., Col. James Moore, Messrs. Samuel Ashe and James 
Moran, for New Hanover County; Richard Quince, sr., Richard 
Quince, jr., Esqrs., and Mr. John Wilkinson, for the town of 
Brunswick; John and William Davis, Esqrs., Messrs Samuel 
Watters, Thomas Davis, and Samuel Neale, for Brunswick 
County; Messrs. John and George Gibbs, and John Grange, jr., 
for Bladen County; Col. James Sampson and Felix Kenan, 
Esq., for Duplin County; William Cray, Henry Roads, and 
Richard Ward, Esqrs., for Onslow County; and Walter Gibson, 
Farquhar Campbell, and Robert Rowan, Esqrs., for Cumber- 
land County. 

lr The Sons of Liberty were originally formed in the fall of 1765. 

Resistance Before the Revolution 


South Carolina Gazette , July 26, 1770. 

We are informed that on the 22d of last month the Virginians 
extended their Economical Plan and Non-Importation Agree- 
ment, agreeable to those of this province, and that some General 
Resolutions were to he framed last week by the inhabitants of 
North Carolina, to manifest their unanimity with the rest of 
the colonies. 

South Carolina Gazette, August 9, 1770. 

(Wilmington, Cape Fear), July 11. 

At a meeting of the General Committee of the Sons of Lib- 
erty upon Cape Fear, in Wilmington, the 5th day of July, Cor- 
nelius Harnett, Esq., was chosen chairman, and the following 
resolution unanimously agreed on, viz. : 

I. Resolved, That the following answer to the letter received from the 
Sons of Liberty in South Carolina, of the 25th of April last, be signed 
by the chairman and sent by the first conveyance. 

To the Sons of Liberty in South Carolina: — 

Gentlemen: — 

Your favour of the 25th of April last was laid before the Sons of Lib- 
erty upon the Cape Fear, at a general meeting in this town, on the 
second of last month, and received with the highest satisfaction. 

We have the pleasure to inform you that many of the principal in- 
habitants of six large and populous counties attended, when it was 
unanimously agreed to keep strictly to the Non-Importation Agreement 
entered into last fall, and to cooperate with our sister colonies in every 
legal measure for obtaining ample redress of the grievance so justly 
complained of. 

Happy should we have thought ourselves if our merchants in general 
would have followed the disinterested and patriotic example of their 
brethren in the other colonies; we hope, however, their own interest 
will convince them of the necessity of importing such articles, and such 
only, as the planters will purchase. 

We should have done ourselves the pleasure of answering your letter 
much sooner, but the gentlemen of the committee living at such a dis- 
tance from each other prevented it. 

We beg to assure you that the inhabitants of those six counties, and 
we doubt not of every county in this colony, are convinced of the neces- 
sity of adhering strictly to their former resolution, and you may de- 
pend they are as tenacious of their just rights as any of their brethren 
on the continent and firmly resolved to stand or fall with them in sup- 
port of the common cause of American liberty. 

Worthless men, as you very justly observe, are the production of 
every country, and we are also so unhappy as to have a few among us 
“who have not virtue enough to resist the allurement of present gain.” 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Yet we can venture to assert, that the people in general of this colony 
will be spirited and steady in their support of their rights as English 
subjects, and will not tamely submit to the yoke of oppression — “But, 
if by the iron hand of power,” they are at last crushed, it is their fixed 
resolution either to fall with the same dignity and spirit you so justly 
mention or transmit to their posterity, entire, the inestimable blessing 
of our free constitution. 

The disinterested and public-spirited behaviour of the merchants and 
other inhabitants of your colony justly merits the applause of every 
lover of liberty on the continent. The people of any colony who have 
not virtue enough to follow so glorious examples must be lost to every 
sense of freedom and consequently deserve to be slaves. We are, 

With great truth, gentlemen, 

Your affectionate countrymen, 

Cornelius Harnett, Chairman. 

Signed by order of the General Committee. 

Wilmington, Cape Fear, July 5, 1770. 

II. Resolved, That we will strictly and inviolably adhere to the Non- 
importation Agreement entered into on the 30th day of September last 
until the grievances therein mentioned are redressed. 

III. Resolved, That we will not on any pretense whatever, have any 
dealings or connexion with the inhabitants of the colony of Rhode 
Island, who contrary to their solemn and voluntary contract have vio- 
lated their faith pledged to the other colonies and thereby shamefully 
deserted the common cause of American liberty; and if any of their 
vessels or merchants shall arrive in Cape Fear River with intention to 
trade, we will to the utmost of our power, by all legal ways and means, 
prevent any person buying from, or selling to them, any goods or com- 
modities whatever, unless they give full satisfaction to the colonies for 
their base and unworthy conduct. 

IV. Resolved, That the merchants of Newport, Rhode Island, and all 
others on the continent of North America, who will not comply with 
the Non-Importation Agreement, are declared enemies to their country, 
and ought to be treated in the most contemptuous manner. 

V. Resolved, That we will not purchase any kind of goods or mer- 
chandise whatever, from any merchants or other person who shall im- 
port or purchase goods for sale contrary to the spirit and intention of 
the said Agreement, unless such goods be immediately re-shipped to 
the place they were imported from or stored under the inspection and 
direction of the committee. 

VI. Resolved, That the members of the committee for the several 
counties in the Wilmington district, and particularly those for the 
towns of Wilmington and Brunswick, do carefully inspect all importa- 
tions of goods, and if any shall be imported contrary to the true intent 
and meaning of the said Non-Importation Agreement, that they give 
public notice thereof in the Cape Fear Mercury, with the names of such 
importers or purchasers. 

VII. Resolved, That copies of these resolutions be immediately trans- 
mitted to all the trading towns in this colony. The Committee of the 

Resistance Before the Revolution 


Sons of Liberty upon Cape Fear, appointed for the town of Wilmington 
to inspect into all goods imported, take this opportunity to inform the 
public that Mr. Arthur Benning, of Duplin County, hath imported in 
the sloop Lancashire Witch from Virginia a small assortment of goods, 
several articles of which are not allowed by the Non-Importation Agree- 
ment. But it appears at the same time to the committee those goods 
were expected to arrive before the 1st. of January last, having been 
ordered by Mr. Benning some time in July last. His correspondent 
sent them to Virginia, where they have lain a considerable time since. 

We have the pleasure to inform the public, that Richard Quince, Esq , 
a member of the General Committee and who may with great propriety 
be deemed a principal merchant, hath joined heartily in the Non-Impor- 
tation Agreement. It will, no doubt, be looked upon as a very great 
misfortune to this country that some merchants and others seem re- 
solved not to follow so disinterested an example, but, on the contrary, 
are daily purchasing wines and many other articles contrary to the 
said Agreement. Should those gentlemen still persist in a practice so 
destructive in its tendencies to the liberties of the people of this colony, 
they must not be surprised if hereafter the names of the importers and 
purchasers should be published in the Gape Fear Mercury. This is in- 
tended to serve as a friendly admonition, and, it is hoped, will be 
received as such and have its due effect. 

The Revolution 


On July 21, 1774, there was an important meeting of the in- 
habitants of the Wilmington district held at Wilmington. 

It being understood that the Governor had determined that 
the Legislature should not meet, this meeting was called to take 
steps for the election of delegates to a Revolutionary Conven- 

William Hooper presided; and Col. James Moore, John 
Ancrum, Fred Jones, Samuel Ashe, Robert Howe, Robert Hogg, 
Francis Clayton, and Archibald Maclaine were appointed a 
committee to prepare a circular letter to the several counties of 
the province, requesting them to elect delegates to represent 
them in the convention. 

This was the first movement to provide for a Revolutionary 
Government, and the delegates elected were the first elected by 
the people in any province in right of the sovereignty of the 
people. It was at this same meeting that the cry, “The Cause 
of Boston is the Cause of All/ 7 arose. Money and a shipload of 
provisions were at once subscribed for the suffering people of 
Boston, and Parker Quince offered his vessel to carry the pro- 
visions and himself went to deliver them. 

In response to the letter sent out by the committee, delegates 
were chosen in every county except five. The convention met at 
New Bern on August 25, 1774, and a Revolutionary Govern- 
ment was instituted. 


(Extracts from the Proceedings of the Committee of Safety of New Hanover County.) 

Wilmington, November 23, 1774. 

At a meeting of the Freeholders in the courthouse at Wil- 
mington for the purpose of choosing a Committee of said town 
to carry more effectually into execution the resolves of the late 
Congress held at Philadelphia, the following names were pro- 
posed and universally assented : 


The Revolution 


Cornelius Harnett, John Quince, Francis Clayton, William 
Hooper, Robert Hogg, Archibald Maclaine, John Robinson, 
James Walker. 

Wednesday, January 4, 1775. 

The Committee met at the courthouse. Present, Cornelius 
Harnett, Archibald Maclaine, John Ancrum, William Hooper, 
and John Robinson. 

At the same time the Freeholders of Hew Hanover County 
assembled to choose a committee for the county to join and co- 
operate with the committee of the town, which the members 
present agreed to. Then the Freeholders present, having Cor- 
nelius Harnett in the chair, unanimously chose George Moore, 
John Ashe, Samuel Ashe, James Moore, Frederick Jones, Alex- 
ander Lillington, Sampson Moseley, Samuel Swann, George 
Merrick, Esquires, and Messrs. John Hollingsworth, Samuel 
Collier, Samuel Marshall, William Jones, Thomas Bloodworth, 
James Wright, John Larkins, Joel Parrish, John Devane, Tim- 
othy Bloodworth, Thomas Devane, John Marshall, John Calvin, 
Bishop Dudley, and William Robeson, Esquires, a committee to 
join the committee of Wilmington. 

Monday, March 6, 1775. 

The Committee met according to adjournment. 

The following Association was agreed on by the Committee 
and annexed to the resolves of the General Congress, to be 
handed to every person in this county and recommended to the 
Committees of the adjacent counties, that those who acceded to 
the said resolves, may subscribe their names thereto. 

We, the subscribers, in testimony of our sincere approbation 
of the proceedings of the late Continental Congress, to the an- 
nexed have hereto set our hands, and we do most solemnly 
engage by the most sacred ties of honor, virtue, and love of our 
country, that we will ourselves strictly observe every part of the 
Association recommended by the Continental Congress. 

Mr. James Kenan, chairman of the Duplin Committee, pur- 
suant to a letter from this committee at its last meeting attended. 

Resolved, That all the members of the committee now present 
go in a body and wait on all housekeepers in town with the 
Association before mentioned and request their signing it, or 
declare their reasons for refusing, that such enemies to their 
country may be set forth to public view and treated with the 
contempt they merit. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Resolved, That it is the opinion of this committee that all 
dances, private as well as public, are contrary to the spirit of 
the eighth article' in the Association of the Continental Con- 
gress, and as such they ought to be discouraged, and that all 
persons concerned in any dances for the future should he prop- 
erly stigmatized. 

Mr. Harnett desired the opinion of the Committee respecting 
a negro fellow he bought in Rhode Island (a native of that 
place) in the month of October last, whom he designed to have 
brought with him to this province, hut the said negro ran away 
at the time of his sailing from Rhode Island. The question was 
put whether Mr. Harnett may import said negro from Rhode 

Resolved unanimously, That Mr. Harnett may import the 
said negro from Rhode Island. 

Tuesday, March 7, 1775. 

Resolved, That three members of this committee attend the 
meeting of the Committee at Duplin on the 18th instant. Mr. 
Samuel Ashe, Mr. Sampson Moseley, and Mr. Timothy Blood- 
worth were accordingly nominated to attend the said Com- 


On the last day of May, 1775, Josiah Martin, the royal gov- 
ernor of North Carolina, locked his palace at New Bern and 
fled to Fort Johnston, arriving there on June 2. Two weeks 
later he issued his proclamation warning the people to desist 
from their revolutionary proceedings. As if in answer, on June 

19, the inhabitants of New Hanover, having assembled, united 
in an association “to sacrifice our lives and fortunes to secure 
the freedom and safety of our country.” The next day, June 

20, the committeemen of Duplin, Bladen, Onslow, Brunswick, 
and New Hanover met at Wilmington and adopted the New 
Hanover Association, which was also signed, later, in Cumber- 
land. Three weeks elapsed, and then the people of the Lower 
Cape Fear, having determined to dislodge the garrison of the 
fort, on the 18th of July seized and burnt the fort, the Governor 
and his soldiers taking refuge on the vessels. 

Knowing that there was a large number of loyal adherents in 
the interior, Governor Martin devised a plan by which a strong 

The Revolution 


British force was to be sent from England to the Cape Fear, 
where they would he joined by the Loyalists from the upper 
counties and the province would he subjugated. Accordingly, 
when the time approached for the British fleet to arrive, the 
Loyalists began to embody, the first movement being on Feb- 
ruary 5, with instructions to concentrate at Campbellton. As 
quickly as this action was known, the news was hurried to Wil- 
mington and other points throughout the province. The mes- 
sengers reached Wilmington on the 9th with the startling in- 
telligence, and the greatest excitement prevailed. 

For eighty hours, night and day, there was severe, unremit- 
ting service, making preparation for defense. Companies of 
troops rushed in from Onslow, Duplin, and Brunswick, the 
whole country being aroused. Colonel Moore with his Conti- 
nentals, Colonel Lillington with his corps of minute men, Col- 
onel Ashe with his Independents, hurried to the vicinity of 
Campbellton to arrest the progress of the Loyalists, while Col- 
onel Purviance, in command of the Hew Hanover Militia, re- 
mained at Wilmington, throwing up breastworks, mounting 
swivels, and constructing fire-rafts to drive off the British ves- 
sels should they attempt to seize the town. The sloop of war 
Cruizer did ascend the river, hut, avoiding Wilmington, tried 
to pass up the Clarendon, or Brunswick, Biver. She was, how- 
ever, driven back by riflemen who lined the banks. 

The Battle of Moore’s Creek 1 followed on February 27, and 
the plan of the Governor was defeated. All during March and 
April British vessels came into the harbor, but the grand fleet 
hearing the troops from England, being detained by storms, did 
not arrive until the end of April, when there were more than a 
hundred ships in the river. The plan of the Governor having 
failed, towards the end of May the fleet sailed, expecting to take 
possession of Charleston, leaving only a few ships in the river. 
Later, these likewise were withdrawn, and for nearly five years 
the people of Wilmington were left undisturbed. 

*A monument commemorating this well-known battle was erected by 
the citizens of Wilmington and its vicinity in 1857. Falling into decay, 
in 1907 it was repaired by the Moore’s Creek Monument Association, 
aided by an appropriation of the United States Congress secured by 
Representative Charles R. Thomas, then representing the Third Con- 
gressional District of North Carolina. 

At the same time and at the same place a monument was erected to 
the brave women of the Revolution, on one side of which appears the 
name of Mary Slocumb, who, it is said, rode sixty-five miles alone at 
night to care for her husband and other patriot soldiers engaged in the 
Battle of Moore’s Creek. 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

At length, South Carolina being subjugated, Lord Cornwallis 
proposed to enter North Carolina, and as a part of his opera- 
tions, on the 28th of January, 1781, Maj. Janies H. Craig took 
possession of Wilmington. His force consisted of eighteen ves- 
sels, carrying a full supply of provisions and munitions, and 
400 regular troops, artillery, and dragoons. At that time 
Brunswick was entirely deserted, and Wilmington contained 
hut 200 houses and only 1,000 inhabitants. The entire Cape 
Fear region was defenseless. The losses of the Cape Fear coun- 
ties at Camden and in other battles at the South had been heavy, 
while many of the militia and the whole Continental Line had 
been surrendered by Lincoln at Charleston. Thus the Whig 
strength had been greatly weakened, while there were in the 
country hut few guns and no powder and lead. On the other 
hand, the Loyalists had been strengthened by accessions from 
those who wearied of the war. 

Major Craig at once dispatched detachments to scour the 
country, seize prominent Whigs, collect forage, and arouse the 
Loyalists, who in some counties largely outnumbered the Whigs. 
After the Battle of Guilford Courthouse, Cornwallis retreated 
to Wilmington, his army arriving there on the 7th of April. 
In the closing days of April, when he had repaired his damage 
as well as he could, he marched through the eastern counties to 
Virginia, leaving the subjugation of North Carolina to Major 

Large bodies of Loyalists, well supplied by the British with 
arms and ammunition and too strong to be successfully resisted, 
now marched at will throughout the Upper Cape Fear, sup- 
pressing the Whigs and taking many prisoners, confining them 
in prison ships or in Craig’s “bull-pen” on shore. 

After Cornwallis had passed on to Virginia, General Lilling- 
ton returned to his former position at Heron Bridge, over the 
Northeast; hut in June he was forced to retire into Onslow 
County, and Craig established an outpost at Butherford Mills, 
on Ashe’s Creek, seven miles east of Burgaw, where he con- 
structed a bastion fort. In the meantime Craig had been active 
in organizing the Loyalists, and issued a proclamation notify- 
ing the inhabitants that they were all British subjects and must 
enroll themselves as Loyalist Militia, and those who did not do 
so by the first day of August were to he harried, their property 
seized and sold, and themselves destroyed. On the last day of 
grace Craig began a march through the eastern counties, his 

The Revolution 


loyal lieutenants being very vigorous in the counties on the 
Northwest and the Haw and the Deep Rivers. When he reached 
Rock Creek, two miles east of Wallace, he found Colonel Kenan 
with some 500 militia ready to contest his passage, but Kenan’s 
ammunition was soon exhausted and the British successfully 
crossed and dispersed the militia. For ten days Craig remained 
in Duplin and harried the Whigs, and then, after being joined 
by 300 Loyalists, he moved towards New Bern. Lillington was 
at Limestone Bridge, but hurried on the road to the Trent to 
keep in Craig’s front. He had about 600 men, but only three 
rounds of ammunition, and had been directed not to hazard a 
battle. On the 17th of August General Caswell reported to the 
Governor: “General Lillington is between New Bern and the 
enemy, and I am fearful will risk an action. I have done every- 
thing I can to prevent it, and have let him have a sight of Your 
Excellency’s letter, wherein you mention that no general action 
must take place.” Craig entered New Bern, and then marched 
towards Kinston, but turned south and went to Richlands, and, 
after obtaining a supply of forage, returned to Wilmington. 
At the east, the Whigs now rallied everywhere, those in Duplin, 
having suffered greatly, being thoroughly exasperated. They 
surprised a body of Tories, “cut many of them to pieces, took 
several and put them to instant death.” The retaliation on each 
side was fierce and ferocious, until at length the Tories sub- 
sided. But in Bladen and higher up the Tory detachments, each 
numbering several hundred, held the country and drove the 
Whigs out. However, on August 28, Colonel Brown, with about 
150 Bladen men, won a complete victory at Elizabethtown and 
broke the Tory power in Bladen. But a fortnight later, Fan- 
ning, whose force numbered 1,000 men, took Hillsboro, cap- 
tured the Governor, and fought the Battle of Cane Creek. 

It was not until October that General Rutherford was able to 
collect enough men to march to the relief of Wilmington. Early 
in November he reached the Northeast, ten miles above the 
town, and established himself there, hemming Craig in. But 
now momentous events happening at Yorktown had their effect 
on the Cape Fear. On the 17th of November, Light-Horse 
Harry Lee (the father of Gen. Robert E. Lee) arrived at Ruth- 
erford’s camp, bringing the glad news of the surrender of Corn- 
wallis. Immediately the whole camp united in a feu de foie , 
and then Rutherford crossed the river and took post at Schaw’s, 
four miles from the town. On the following morning, Novem- 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

ber 18, Major Craig and his troops boarded his ships and took 
their departure, and although the Tory bands continued to wage 
a relentless and murderous warfare on the Haw and the Deep, 
Wilmington thereafter enjoyed quiet and repose. 


(The Wilmington Weekly Chronicle, February, 1844.) 

One of the most daring and successful onsets upon Tories by 
the Whigs during the Revolutionary War was at Elizabethtown, 
in the county of Bladen, of this State. No notice of the battle 
was found in any history of that period. We understood that 
there was an imperfect relation of it published in a Federal 
paper twenty-five or thirty years ago. That a memorial to so 
gallant an act might be revived and placed within reach of some 
future historian, we addressed a letter to a distinguished gentle- 
man of Bladen, desiring such information in regard to the 
affair as he should possess or be able to collect. The annexed 
letter from him furnishes a very satisfactory account of the in- 
formation sought for, and will doubtless be perused by every 
North Carolinian with much interest. Our respected corre- 
spondent, probably through inadvertence, omitted to put down 
the date of the battle. It was 1781, and, as near as we can 
ascertain, in the month of July. 

» * -»-v ^ Bladen County, Feb. 21st, 1844. 

A. A. Brown, Esq., 

Editor of the Wilmington WeeTdy Chronicle. 

Hear Sir: — Yours of the 3d inst. was received, soliciting 
such information as I possess or may be able to collect respect- 
ing the battle fought at Elizabethtown during our Revolutionary 
struggle between the Whigs and Tories. I have often regretted 
that the actions and skirmishes which occurred in this and New 
Hanover County should have been overlooked by historians. 
The Battle of Elizabethtown deserves a place in history and 
ought to be recollected by every true-hearted North Carolinian 
with pride and pleasure. Here sixty men, driven from their 
homes, their estates ravaged and houses plundered, who had 
taken refuge with the Whigs of Duplin, without funds and bare 
of clothing, resolved to return, fight, conquer, or die. After col- 
lecting all the ammunition they could, they embodied and 
selected Col. Thomas Brown in command. They marched fifty 

The Revolution 


miles through almost a wilderness country before they reached 
the river, subsisting on jerked beef and a scanty supply of 
bread. The Tories had assembled, 300 or more, at Elizabeth- 
town, and were commanded by Slingsby and Godden. The 
former was a talented man and well fitted for his station; the 
latter, bold, daring, and reckless, ready to risk everything to put 
down the Whigs. Every precautionary measure was adopted to 
prevent surprise and to render this the stronghold of Toryism. 
Nobody was suffered to remain on the east side of the river. 
Guards and sentries were regularly detached and posted. When 
the little band of Whig heroes after nightfall reached the river 
not a boat was to be found. But it must be crossed, and that 
speedily. Its depth was ascertained by some who were tall and 
expert swimmers. They, to a man, cried out, “It is fordable; 
we can, we will cross it.” Not a murmur was heard, and with- 
out a moment’s delay they all undressed, tied their clothing and 
ammunition on their heads (baggage they had none), each man, 
grasping the barrel of his gun, raised the bridge so as to keep 
the lock above water, descended the banks, and entered the river. 
The taller men found less difficulty ; those of lower stature were 
scarcely able to keep their mouths and noses above water ; but 
all safely reached the opposite shore, resumed their dresses, 
fixed their arms for action, made their way through the low 
ground then thickly settled with men, ascended the hills, which 
were high and precipitous, crossed King’s Boad leading through 
the town, and took a position in its rear. Here they formed, 
and, in about two hours after crossing a mile below, commenced 
a furious attack, driving in the Tory sentries and guards. They 
continued rapidly to advance, keeping up a brisk and well- 
directed fire, and were soon in the midst of the foe, mostly 
Highland Scotchmen, as brave, as high-minded as any of His 
Majesty’s subjects. So sudden and violent an onset for the mo- 
ment produced disorder ; but they were rallied by their gallant 
leader and made for a while the most determined resistance. 
Slingsby fell mortally wounded and Godden was killed, with 
most of the officers of inferior grade. They retreated, some 
taking refuge in houses, the others, the larger portion, leaping 
pell-mell into a deep ravine, since called the Tory Hole. As the 
Tories had unlimited sway from the river to the Little Pee Dee, 
the Whigs recrossed, taking with them their wounded. Such 
was the general panic produced by this action that the Tories 
became dispirited and never after were so troublesome. The 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Whigs returned to their homes in safety. In the death of 
Slingsby the Tories were deprived of an officer whose place it 
was difficult to fill; but few were equal to Godden in partisan 
warfare. This battle was mostly fought by river planters, men 
who had sacrificed much for their country. To judge it cor- 
rectly it should not be forgotten that the country from Little 
Pee Dee to the Caharas was overrun by the Tories. Wilmington 
was in possession of the British and Cross Creek of the Tories. 
Thus situated, the attack made on them at Elizabethtown as- 
sumed much of the character of a forlorn hope. Had the Whigs 
not succeeded they must have been cut off to a man. If they 
had fled southward the Tories would have risen to destroy 
them. If eastward, the Tories in that case, flushed with victory, 
would have pursued them, and they would have sought in vain 
their former asylum. This action produced in this part of 
North Carolina as sudden and happy results as the Battles of 
Trenton and Princeton in New Jersey. The contest was un- 
equal, but valor supplied the place of numbers. 

It is due to Colonel Brown, who, when a youth, marched with 
General Waddell from Bladen and fought under Governor 
Try on at the Battle of Alamance and was afterwards wounded 
at the Big Bridge, to say he fully realized the expectations of 
his friends and the wishes of those who selected him to com- 
mand; and when the history of our State shall be written this 
action alone, apart from his chivalric conduct at the Big Bridge, 
will place him by the side of his compatriots Horry, Marion, 
and Sumter of the South. It must, it will, form an interesting 
page in our history on which the young men of North Carolina 
will delight to dwell. It is an achievement which bespeaks not 
only the most determined bravery, but great military skill. 
Most of these men, like the Ten Thousand Greeks, were fitted 
to command. Owen had fought at Camden, Morehead com- 
manded the nine months’ men sent to the South, Robeson and 
Ervine were the Percys of the Whigs and might justly be called 
the Hotspurs of the Cape Eear. 

The foregoing narrative was detailed to me by two of the re- 
spective combatants, who now sleep with their fathers ; the sub- 
stance of which I have endeavored to preserve with all the ac- 
curacy a memory not very retentive will permit. A respectable 
resident of Elizabethtown has recently informed me that he was 
a small boy at the time of the battle and lived with his mother 
in one of the houses to which the Tories repaired for safety; 

The Revolution 


that he has a distinct recollection of the fire of the Whigs, which 
appeared like one continuous stream. Documentary evidence I 
have none. With great respect, 

The Battle of Elizabethtown took place August 29, 1781. 
The consequences of that victory were far-reaching. Colonel 
Slingsby had at Elizabethtown a great number of Whigs held 
as prisoners, who were restored to liberty and augmented the 
Whig strength in Bladen. The guns, ammunition, provisions, 
and other spoils taken supplied the Whigs, who were in the ex- 
tremest need. Not only were the Loyalists broken up and dis- 
persed, but the Whigs were so strengthened that afterwards the 
Tories, who had been masters of Bladen, made no opposition to 
them. Still the condition of the Whigs in Bladen, as in all the 
other Cape Eear country, remained deplorable. 


Col. James Innes, who appears to have had some military 
training before he came to the Cape Eear, about 1735, so dis- 
tinguished himself in the war against the Spaniards, in 1740, 
that when the French and Indian War came on Governor Din- 
widdie of Virginia appointed him to the command of all the 
forces in Virginia. 

Col. Hugh Waddell, a young Irishman who came to Wil- 
mington, won a great reputation during the French and Indian 
War; but Innes and Waddell both died before the Revolution, 
as also did Moses John DeRosset, likewise an officer in the 
former war. 

Among others who served in the French and Indian War were 
Col. Caleb Grainger, Capt. Thomas McManus, James Moore, 
Robert Howe, and John Ashe. Howe had been in command of 
Fort Johnston, and Ashe, colonel of militia, was for a time on 
Innes’ staff. 

When the Provincial Congress began to raise troops, in 1775, 
J ames Moore was elected colonel of the First Continentals, and 
at the outset he remained to defend the Cape Fear. He was 
soon appointed brigadier general in the Continental Army, and 
for a while in 1776 was in command of the forces in South 
Carolina. He died on the Cape Fear, while leading his brigade 
to the North. He was an officer of great ability. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Eobert Howe was colonel of the Second Continentals, which 
he shortly led to Norfolk, where for a time he was in command. 
Like Moore, he was appointed brigadier general in the Conti- 
nental Army, and he succeeded Moore in command of the forces 
in South Carolina, but later joined Washington and had a 
distinguished career. After the war he died in Bladen and was 
buried on his plantation, The Grange. 

Alexander Lillington was colonel of the minute men of the 
Cape Fear district. He became colonel of the Sixth Continen- 
tals and later general of militia. He led his command to the aid 
of Lincoln at Charleston, but on the expiration of the term of 
duty he and his men retired from the city before it was too late. 
The next year he was in command resisting the British on the 
Cape Fear. He survived the war, but died a few years later. 

Gen. John Ashe was the first brigadier general of the militia 
of the Cape Fear district. As major general, in 1779 he led a 
detachment to Georgia, but was defeated by British regulars. 
In 1781 he was taken prisoner, and he died the same year at 
Colonel Sampson’s, Sampson Hall. 

After the surrender of the North Carolina Continentals at 
Charleston, two new battalions were organized, Col. John Bap- 
tista Ashe, who had served at the North, being lieutenant colonel 
of one and winning fame at Eutaw Springs. 

Lieut. Sam Ashe (the younger) was captured at Charleston, 
and after exchange served with Greene till the end of the war. 

For three years Maj. Sam Ashe, a son of Gen. John Ashe, 
had a cavalry company at the North. 

Col. Thomas Clark, a native of the Cape Fear, was colonel of 
the Continentals, and served so well that the General Assembly 
urged Congress to appoint him brigadier general. With nearly 
all the North Carolina Continentals he was made prisoner when 
General Lincoln surrendered at Charleston. 

Samuel Purviance was colonel of the New Hanover Militia. 

In the First Eegiment were Captains William Davis, Alfred 
Moore, John Walker, and Caleb Grainger; Lieutenants John 
Lillington, William Hill, Thomas Callender, and Samuel Wat- 
ters, and Ensign Maurice Moore, jr. On the staff were Eichard 
Bradley, William Lord, and Adam Boyd, while James Tate was 

In the Fourth Eegiment were Captains Eoger Moore, John 
Ashe, jr., and John Maclaine. 

Dr. James Fergus was surgeon of the Sixth Eegiment. 

The Revolution 


Capt. John Hill won laurels at the bloody Battle of Entaw 

Griffith John McKee was the commanding officer of the 
[North Carolina Continentals with Greene at the end of the war 
and was a most efficient and distinguished officer. 

Major McKee left three sons, one, Capt. William McKee, of 
the United States Engineers, planned the Lundy Lane cam- 
paign; another, Gen. Sam McKee, distinguished himself in the 
Mexican War; and the other, Dr. James Fergus McKee, was 
perhaps the most learned [North Carolinian of his time. 

One of the most picturesque characters of this period was 
Maj. Jack Walker. He was horn near Alnwick Castle, under 
the shadow of the Grampian Hills, and in 1761, while yet a 
youth of twenty, he landed at Old Brunswick. In stature he 
stood six feet four, and he possessed enormous strength. There 
were no lions for him to conquer, but once when a mad bull 
raged through the streets of Wilmington, Samson-like, he seized 
the infuriated animal by the horns, threw him to the ground and 
held him. As major of the North Carolina Continentals, he 
fought valiantly at the [North. Ever a warm patriot, he was 
violent against those who sympathized with the Tories. The 
people loved him, affectionately calling him “Major Jack/ 7 and 
he wielded great power among them. Although he amassed a 
considerable fortune, he never married, his large estate descend- 
ing to a favorite nephew, Maj. John Walker, who was the father 
of Hon. Thomas D. Walker, Alvis Walker, John Walker, Capt. 
George Walker, Dr. Joshua C. Walker, Henry Walker, Calhoun 
Walker, and of the wives of Gen. W. H. C. Whiting, Maj. 
James H. Hill, Capt. C. P. Bolles, Capt. John Cowan, and Mr. 
Frederick Eosgate. 

The above record is by no means complete, as during the 
troublous time of the Revolution every patriot family on the 
Cape Fear contributed its utmost to the cause of independence. 


In the sacred name of God, Amen. 

The twenty-eighth day of April, one thousand seven hundred 
and eighty-one, I, Cornelius Harnett of New Hanover County, 
in North Carolina, Esquire, tho weak in body, but of perfect 
mind and memory, do make & ordain this to be my last will and 
testament in manner & form following, viz : 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Imprimus. I give, devise, and bequeath to my beloved wife, 
Mary, all my estate, real, personal, & mixed, of what nature or 
kind soever, to her, her heirs & assigns forever. 

Item. I do hereby nominate and appoint my said wife, 
Mary, Executrix, and Samuel Ashe & William Hill, Executors, 
to this my last will and testament, hereby revoking and dis- 
annulling all former wills by me heretofore made. Ratifying 
and confirming this & no other to be my last will & testament. 

In witness whereof I have hereunto set my hand and seal the 
day and year above written. 

Cornl. Harnett (Seal) 

Signed, sealed, published, pronounced, 
and declared by the said Cornelius Har- 
nett as & for his last Will & Testament 
in presence of 

Anne Hooper. 

Tho. Maclaine. 

Jno. Juske. 

I, Cornelius Harnett having executed the within written 
will, think it not improper to add that as I have ever considered 
expensive funerals as ostentatious folly, it is my earnest request 
(and from my present circumstances now doubly necessary) 
that I may be buried with the utmost frugality. 

Cornl. Harnett. 

Hew Hanover County. 

January Term, 1782. 

The within last will & Testament of Cornelius Harnett, 
Esquire, was exhibited in Court and proved by the oath of 
Thomas Maclaine, a subscribing witness thereto, who swore 
that he saw the testator sign, seal, publish, and declare the same 
to be and contain his last will and testament. Also, that he 
was of sound and disposing mind and memory. Ordered, that 
letters testamentary do issue to Mary Harnett, Executrix to the 
said will. At same time Mrs. Harnett qualified agreeable to 
law. Tho. Maclaine, Clh. 

This will was filed in my office by H. H. Robinson, clerk of 
Bladen County, this 20th January, 1846. 

L. H. Marsteller, 

Cllc N. Hanover Cty Ct. 

The Revolution 



By David Macrae. 

Shortly after the four years’ war, a distinguished Scottish 
traveler and lecturer, David Macrae, visited Wilmington, and was 
entertained for several weeks by my father, the late Alexander 
Sprunt, who sent him with credentials to the “Scotch Country,” 
where he was cordially received and honored. Mr. Macrae 
delivered in Wilmington several lectures, which were largely 
attended, and he generously devoted the proceeds to the benefit 
of local charities. 

He subsequently wrote the following account of Highlanders in 
North Carolina, with particular reference to Flora Macdonald, 
whose romantic life on the Cape Fear is worthy of a more en- 
during memorial. 

Visit to the Highland Settlement. 

In the month of February, one clear, sharp morning, I left 
Wilmington on my way up the Cape Fear Kiver to follow the 
old track of the Highland emigrants, and see their settlement. 

The steamers on that river, as indeed on most of the long 
rivers in America, are stern-wheelers — large, slim, white, and 
deck-cabined, with only one paddle, hut that of stupendous size, 
standing out like a mill-wheel from the stern and making one 
think, on seeing the steamer in motion, of a gigantic wheel- 
barrow drawn swiftly backwards. The advantage of the stern 
wheel for shallow and winding rivers is that it allows of a 
narrower beam than two paddles, and takes sufficient hold to 
propel a steamer in water too shallow for the screw. Our 
steamer that morning (flat-bottomed, of course, as all American 
river steamers are) drew only eighteen inches of water, and 
went at great speed. 

We had not been steaming long up the broad pale earthy- 
brown river, through the flat expanse, with its rice plantations, 
its forest land, and its clearings, with the black stumps still 
standing like chessmen on a hoard, when I was struck with the 
extraordinary appearance of the leafless woods, which looked as 
if a deluge had just subsided, leaving the trees covered with 
masses of sea-weed. 

I gazed on this phenomenon with much wonder, till it sud- 
denly occurred to me that this must he the famous Carolina 
moss ( Tillandsia ) of which I had often heard, hut which I had 
not yet seen in any quantity. I satisfied myself by asking a 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

tall, shaggy man, in leather leggings and a tattered cloak of 
Confederate gray, who was standing near me. 

“Don’t it grow whar you come from?” asked the man, with 
the usual inquisitiveness of thinly peopled regions. On learn- 
ing that I was a stranger from the old country, he became ex- 
ceedingly courteous, and told me that the moss I had inquired 
about was very common in that State, and was much used by 
the people for stuffing seats and cushions and bedding, being 
first boiled to kill it. He said it seemed to feed upon the air. 
You could take a handful and fling it over the branch of an- 
other tree, and it would grow all the same. 

After a sail of some hours we reached a point from which a 
railway runs in a southwesterly direction, traversing part of 
the “Scotch Country.” Here we got into “cars,” and were soon 
howling through the lonely forest on the narrow iron bed, some- 
times over tracks that were irregularly covered for miles with 
still water, in which the trees and bushes that rose from it stood 
reflected as on the bosom of a lake. How and then, at long 
intervals, we stopped at some little wayside station in the forest, 
with its cheerful signs of human life, its casks of turpentine and 
its piles of corded wood, around which the pines were being 
hewn down and cut, some of them into bars, others into cheese- 
like sections, for splitting into the shingles that are used for 
roofing instead of slates or tiles. Occasionally the train stopped 
in places where there was no station at all, to let some one out 
at the part of the forest nearest to his home. The conductor, 
who was continually passing up and down through the cars, 
stopped the train, whenever necessary, by pulling the cord that 
is slung along the roof of all American trains and communicates 
with the engine. 

We now began to get up into the higher country, amongst 
forests of giant pines, where the ground was rough, and where 
the sandy soil, looking in some places like patches of snow, 
seemed, for the most part, untouched by the hand of man. It 
was into these vast solitudes, of which we had as yet hut touched 
the skirt, that the Highlanders, driven from their native land 
during the religious and political troubles of the last century, 
had come to find a home. 

Horth Carolina was long a favorite field for Highland emi- 
gration. More than a hundred and forty years ago, when 
Alexander Clark, of Jura, went out to Horth Carolina and 
made his way up the Cape Fear River to Cross Creek, he found 

The Revolution 


already there one Hector MhNeill, (known as “Bluff” Hector, 
from his occupying the bluffs over the river,) who told him of 
many others settled farther back, most of them exiles from Scot- 
land, consequent on the troubles that followed the downfall of 
the Stuarts, some of them Macdonalds who had been fugitives 
from the massacre of Glencoe. The numbers were largely in- 
creased by the failure of the Jacobite Rebellion in 1745. The 
persecution to which the Highlanders were subjected after the 
scattering of the clans at Culloden made many of them eager to 
escape from the country; and when the government, after the 
execution of many captured rebels, granted pardon to the rest 
on condition of their taking the oath of allegiance and emigrat- 
ing to the plantations of America, great numbers availed them- 
selves of the opportunity. They were followed gradually by 
many of their kith and kin, till the vast plains and forest lands 
in the heart of Horth Carolina were sprinkled with a Gaelic- 
speaking population. 

In 1775, the Scotch colony received a memorable accession 
in the person of Flora Macdonald, who, with her husband and 
children, had left Scotland in poverty to seek a home with their 
friends in the American forests. The heroine was received at 
Wilmington 1 and at various points along her route with High- 
land honors; and the martial airs of her native land greeted 
her as she approached Cross Creek, the little capital of the 
Highland settlement. She arrived, however, at an unhappy 
time. The troubles between Great Britain and the colonies 
were coming to a head, and in a few months hostilities began. 

It is somewhat singular that many of these Highland colon- 
ists, the very men who had fought against the Hanoverian 
dynasty at home, were now forward to array themselves on its 
side. But they had been Jacobites and Conservatives in Scot- 
land, and conservatism in America meant loyalty to the King. 
Many of them, however, espoused the cause of independence, 
and the declaration prepared in the county of Cumberland, 
immediately after the famous declaration of the neighboring 
county of Mecklenburg, has many Highland names attached. 
The crafty Governor, fearing the spread of anti-British senti- 
ment, and knowing the influence of Flora Macdonald amongst 
the Scottish settlers, commissioned one of her kinsfolk, Donald 
Macdonald, who had been an officer in the Prince’s army in 

*At Wilmington a public ball was given in her honor. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

1745, to raise a Highland regiment for the King, and gave the 
rank of captain to Flora’s hnsband. This identified the heroine 
with the Royalist party, and had the effect of securing the ad- 
hesion of hundreds of gallant men who would otherwise have 
held back or joined the other side. When the royal standard 
was raised at Cross Creek, 1,500 Highlanders assembled in 
arms. Flora, it is said, accompanied her husband, and inspired 
the men with her own enthusiasm. She slept the first night in 
the camp, and did not return to her home till she saw the troops 
begin their march. The fate that awaited this gallant little 
force is known to all readers of history. It had got down the 
river as far as Moore’s Creek, on its way to join Governor 
Martin, when, finding further advance checked by a force of 
Revolutionists under Lillington and Caswell, while another 
under Colonel Moore was hurrying up in pursuit, it was driven 
to attack the enemy in front on ground of his own choosing. 
In the first onslaught its officers fell, confusion ensued, and 
after a severe struggle the Highlanders were routed. 1 Flora’s 
husband was taken prisoner and thrown into Halifax jail. 

Many of those who escaped are said to have joined another 
Highland regiment which was raised for the King under the 
title of the North Carolina Highlanders and fought the Revo- 
lutionists till the close of the war. So deeply had they identi- 
fied themselves with the royal cause that when the war was 
ended most of them, including Flora Macdonald and her hus- 
band, left America and returned to Scotland. Those who re- 
mained in the settlement, divided by the war, were soon reunited 
by peace, became, as in duty hound, good citizens, and resumed 
the task of taming the savage wilderness in which they had cast 
their lot. 

When the troubles between North and South were gathering 
to a head in 1860, the Highlanders, with their conservative 
instincts, were almost to a man opposed to secession. But, 
taught to believe that their allegiance was due primarily, not to 

M. A. McAllister, of Lumberton, N. C., says: 

“In connection with the Battle of Moore’s Creek, it may interest a 
good many to know that the capture of Gen. Donald McDonald was 
effected by William Whitfield and his brother-in-law, Williams. This 
fact I learn from the genealogical record of the Whitfield-Bryan fami- 
lies. It is stated in the record that William and his brother, Needham 
Whitfield, both took part in the battle. William belonged to the light 
horse. He and Needham were sons of William Whitfield and his wife, 
Anne Bryan, and there are but few families in North Carolina more 
numerous or more highly respected.” 

The Revolution 


the Federal Government but to the State, no sooner did North 
Carolina go out, than they, with Highland loyalty, followed; 
and no men crowded to the front more eagerly, or fought more 
valiantly or more desperately to the bitter end. 

Almost every man of those I met had served in the Confed- 
erate Army, and had left dead brothers or sons on the battle- 
field. Others, following the example of those who had left 
Scotland after the downfall of the Stuarts, and America after 
the triumph of the Revolution, had left the States altogether, 
and gone off to Mexico. 

Amongst those I found at Wilmington was one who was a 
fine specimen of the material that the Highlands have given to 
Carolina, a spare, dark-visaged, soldierly fellow-— Gen. William 
MacRae — whose personal valour and splendid handling of his 
troops in battle had caused him to be repeatedly complimented 
by Lee in general orders. 

He seemed to belong to a fighting family. His eight brothers 
had all been either in the army or the navy. Their father, Gen. 
Alexander MacRae, had fought in the war with England in 
1812, and, on the outbreak of the War between the States, 
though then a man of seventy years of age, again took the field, 
and commanded what was known as MacRae’s battalion. He 
died not many weeks after I parted from him at Wilmington. 
He was the grandson of the Rev. Alexander MacRae, minister 
of Kintail, two of whose sons fell fighting for the Pretender at 
Culloden. The others emigrated to North Carolina, and one of 
them, Philip, who had also served in the Prince’s army, cher- 
ished so deadly a hate of the English in consequence of the 
atrocities of Cumberland, that he would never learn the English 
language, but spoke Gaelic to the day of his death. The family 
settled in Moore County, which is part of what is still called 
the “Scotch Country.” 

The Life of Flora Macdonald was published by her grand- 
daughter in the form of an autobiography, said to be based on 
family records. The following is the passage in which the 
Scottish heroine is made to describe the episode in her life con- 
nected with America: 

“In 1775 my husband put in practice a plan he and I often 
talked over — that of joining the emigrants who were leaving 
their native hills to better their fortunes on the other side of the 
Atlantic. We were induced to favour this scheme more par- 
ticularly as a succession of failures of the crops and unforeseen 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

family expenses rather cramped our small income. So, after 
making various domestic arrangements, one of which was to 
settle our dear hoy J ohnnie under the care of a kind friend, Sir 
Alexander McKenzie, of Devlin, near Dunkeld, until he was 
of age for an India appointment, we took ship for Korth Amer- 
ica. The others went with us, my youngest girl excepted, 
whom I left with friends; she was only nine years old. Ann 
was a fine young woman, and my sons as promising fellows as 
ever a mother could desire. Believe me, dear Maggie, in pack- 
ing the things, the Prince’s sheet was put up in lavender, so 
determined was I to be laid in it whenever it might please my 
Heavenly Father to command the end of my days. On reach- 
ing Horth Carolina, Allan soon purchased and settled upon an 
estate; hut our tranquillity was ere long broken up by the dis- 
turbed state of the country, and my husband took an active part 
in that dreadful War of Independence. The Highlanders were 
now as forward in evincing attachment to the British Govern- 
ment as they had furiously opposed it in former years. My 
poor husband, being loyally disposed, was treated harshly by the 
opposite party, and was confined for some time in jail at Hali- 
fax. After being liberated, he was officered in a royal corps — 
the Horth Carolina Highlanders; and although America suited 
me and the young people, yet my husband thought it advisable 
to quit a country that had involved us in anxiety and trouble 
almost from the first month of our landing on its shores. So, 
at a favorable season for departure, we sailed for our native 
country, all of us, excepting our sons, Charles and Ronald, who 
were in Hew York expecting appointments, which they soon 
after obtained ; Alexander was already, dear boy, at sea. Thus 
our family was reduced in number. On the voyage home all 
went well until the vessel encountered a French ship of war, and 
we were alarmed on finding that an action was likely'to take 
place. The captain gave orders for the ladies to remain below, 
safe from the skirmish ; but I could not rest quiet, knowing my 
husband’s spirit and energy would carry him into the thick of 
the fighting; therefore I rushed up the companion-ladder — I 
think it was so called — and I insisted on remaining on deck to 
share my husband’s fate, whatever that might be. Well, dear 
Maggie, thinking the sailors were not as active as they ought to 
have been — and they appeared crest-fallen, as if they expected a 
defeat — I took courage and urged them on by asserting their 
rights and the certainty of the victory. Alas ! for my weak 

The Revolution 


endeavors to be of service ; I was badly rewarded, being thrown 
down in the noise and confusion on deck. I was fain to go 
below, suffering excrutiating agony in my arm, which the doc- 
tor, who was fortunately on board, pronounced to be broken. 
It was well set, yet from that time to this it has been consider- 
ably weaker than the other. So you see I have periled my life 
for both the houses of Stuart and Brunswick, and gained noth- 
ing from either side !” 


Early Years 


Vice-consul dans la Caroline du Nord, professeur de botanique k la Faculty de M6decine de 
Montpellier, membre de l’lnstitut d’Egypte, correspondant de l’lnstitut 
de France, chevalier de la Legion d’honneur, etc. 

Iii 1802, when First Consul of France, Hapoleon honored the 
town of Wilmington by sending to this port as vice-consul the 
gifted young scientist Raffeneau Delile, whose scientific work, 
although he was at that time hut twenty-four years old, had won 
for him the grateful recognition of France, 

“ Quoi quit arrive il faut que je sois regrette , si j’ai eu quel- 
que valeur; cest a V oeuvre que Von connait Vouvrier: ‘ A fruc- 
tibus eorum cognoscetis eos / a dit VEvangile” (Whatever 
happens, I must be regretted if I have had worth ; it is by the 
work that we know the workman: ‘By their fruits you shall 

know them/ saith the Gospel.) Thus wrote Delile in affec- 
tionate confidence to his son five years before his death, and 
his distinguished contemporary, M. Joly, in an historic eulogy, 
quotes the scientist’s own words in his estimate of the man 
whose work won for him an imperishable name. 

Alyre Raffeneau Delile was horn in Versailles in 1778. His 
ancestors had held positions at court from the time of Francis 
I., and he inherited the post held by his father, hut his larger 
heritage was the principles of honor and strict integrity. His 
early boyhood was passed under the shadow of the impending 
Revolution, hut though his father was attached to the court 
during that critical period, he encouraged Delile in forming 
independent opinions, leaving him free to espouse actively 
either the cause of the King or of the people. With no predilec- 
tion for public affairs, however, he gave himself to the study of 
botany and anatomy, and when an interne in the Hospital of 
Versailles, learned Greek and some Latin from one of the 
Prussian soldiers who then filled its wards. Later, he entered 
a medical school in Paris which Bonaparte, then professing in- 
terest in chemistry, sometimes visited; hut for Bonaparte ab- 
stract study could not shut out the call to the great arena of 
military activity and conquest. At that time the mysteries of 
Egypt beckoned with even greater persuasiveness than had the 
[ 130 ] 

Early Years 


laurels of Italy, and the African expedition was made ready. 
To the credit of Napoleon be it ever remembered that he desired 
to conquer more than lands and peoples, and to accompany him 
on that memorable journey to Egypt to solve its mysteries and 
add distinction to French culture he chose fifteen of the greatest 
savants of France, among them Rene Louiche Desfontaine, the 
noted botanist, who had already visited Egypt, bringing back 
probably the largest single collection of foreign plants then in 
existence. But Desfontaine declined the honor of going and 
requested it for Raffeneau Delile, then but twenty years old. 
Realizing that his youth and inexperience might embarrass him 
in such a company, Delile refused to go unless there should be 
conferred upon him the title of a superior officer. His request 
was granted, and he went forth with “those soldiers of letters, 
the new Argonauts.” In Egypt his knowledge of Greek was of 
great value to him in deciphering inscriptions on obelisks and 
temples and in tombs. It was Boussard, an officer of this expe- 
dition, who found the Rosetta stone, and it is possible that 
Delile was one of the first to read some of the Greek inscrip- 
tion 1 upon that. These scientists formed themselves into the 
Institute of Egypt, planned after the Institut National , and 
Delile was made director of the Botanical Gardens of Cairo, 
which he enriched by specimens gathered in the valley of the 
Nile, on the borders of the Red Sea, and in the desert. He 
thoroughly explored the world of plants, wrote extensively, and 
read before the Institute of Egypt memorials that carried his 
name across the Mediterranean. But misfortune came, and on 
August 31, 1801, Alexandria capitulated to the English, leav- 
ing to the mercy of the conquerors the marvelous collections of 
Bonaparte’s scientific expedition. It was when these were 
claimed that the illustrious naturalist Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, 
in the names of his colleagues, Delile and Savigny, made to the 
haughty English general the heroic response: “We will not 

yield. Your army will enter this place in two days. Ah, well, 
between now and then the sacrifice will be consummated. We 
will ourselves burn our treasures; you will afterwards dispose 
of our persons as seems good to you.” It is needless to say that 
the collection was saved to the French. 

Scarcely had Delile returned to France, when Bonaparte sent 
him to Wilmington as under-commissioner of commercial rela- 

!To Champollion belongs the honor of deciphering the hieroglyphic 
and using it as a key to the decipherment of the monuments of Egypt. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

tions, with the title of vice-consul. The position was not in 
harmony with his tastes, hut he applied himself to his tasks with 
intelligence and zeal, and his rectitude and pleasing personality 
won for him the esteem and affection of all. While here he 
became the friend of Thomas Jefferson, then President of the 
United States, and other distinguished Americans. 

The rich vegetation of North Carolina, with its variety and 
abundance of new and interesting specimens, furnished relief 
from the more uncongenial task of observing the current price 
of commodities at the port and counting the revenues that 
passed through his hands. Dr. M. A. Curtis, the noted botanist 
of North Carolina, in the Boston Journal of Natural History , 
1834, said: “It is confidently believed that no section of the 

Union of equal extent contains such a rich and extensive variety 
of plants as is to he found about Wilmington,” and he men- 
tioned the fact that in little more than two seasons, at intervals 
from other engagements, he had found more than a thousand 
specimens, with much ground still unexamined. It is easy to 
imagine how a man like Delile reveled in these new-found gar- 
dens, and all the more because his august patroness, soon to he 
the Empress Josephine, particularly requested him to collect in 
America all the plants which might be of interest in France; 
and the director of the establishment of Malmaison, M. de Mir- 
bel, engaged him to respond as soon as possible to the commis- 
sion of the future empress. Bonaparte, also, took the liveliest 
interest in the plan of Josephine to naturalize foreign flora in 
France, and, becoming emperor, it was his desire to bring under 
one sceptre plants grown in every corner of the globe, and to 
acclimatize them in the greenhouses of Malmaison. “Here,” M. 
Joly tells us, “flourished the violet of Parma, the rose of Da- 
mascus, the lily of the Nile,” and — shall we say the marvelous 
Dioncea muscipula , Drosera , and Sarracenia of Carolina ? De- 
lile is said to have established in Wilmington an herbarium in 
connection with his collection for Josephine, and his specimens 
of American grains he sent to the distinguished botanist Palisot 
de Beauvois, who published a classification of them in general 
with other specimens in his Agrostographie. The writer of 
this sketch had the good fortune to come upon a copy of the 
Agrostographie corrected by Palisot himself, in which he makes 
acknowledgment to those who aided in his work, and among 
them Delile. It is regretted that no book of Delile’ s giving an 
account of the plants of Carolina is at hand. He wrote Memoire 

Early Years 


sur quelques especes de graminees propres a la Caroline du 
Nord , also, Centurie des plantes de VAmerique du Nord , but 
these are not available to the writer. At the time of his death 
he was writing on the Flora d’ Amerique, which he expected to 
publish soon. 

Leaving Wilmington abruptly in 1806, Delile went to New 
York and obtained a degree in medicine, after which he first 
thought of practicing that profession in New Orleans, and then 
of becoming an American planter. His mother combatted the 
latter intention, however, and, reminding him of the friendship 
of the Empress Josephine, emphasized the fact that it was not 
necessary to be exiled from a country in which he had such good 
and powerful friends. Shortly after this he was recalled to 
France by a decree of the consuls to join a commission charged 
with erecting a monument to science. 

In 1819 he came to the chair of botany and materia medica 
in the faculty of Montpellier, already made illustrious by half a 
dozen of the most distinguished men of France. As director of 
le jardin des plantes de Montpellier , he added lustre to his name 
and to that of the establishment. The botanical gardens of 
Montpellier, created in 1596 by Henry IV., were the first es- 
tablished in France, and to an already bountiful collection De- 
lile added treasures of the vegetable world found in Egypt and 
in North Carolina and other parts of the eastern section of the 
United States. His gardens seem in a measure to have been 
converted by him into a department of agriculture, in which 
he studied vegetation with practical intent, both for domestic 
economy and for industrial development. 

In the reign of Louis XVIII., he held at court the position 
his father and grandfather had held — that of porte-malle — but 
he soon renounced it, writing Voltaire: “It is from the court 

that one ought to flee ; it is in the country that one ought to live.” 

In 1806 he sent from New York to a friend in France a cata- 
logue of the botanical gardens established in 1801 at Elgin, 
New York, by the celebrated Dr. Hosack, and in doing so dis- 
cussed briefly American trees, remarking that it would be very 
easy to naturalize them in France, especially the cypress of 
North Carolina, the white oak, the swamp oak, the green oak of 
Virginia, and the yellow oak, the last valuable to art on account 
of the beautiful color extracted from its bark, and the rest for 
decorating parks. He called attention in particular to the fact 
that our trees are able to stand more cold in winter and heat in 
summer than those of France. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Delile was a man of wonderful sweetness of character. When 
he came to live in Wilmington, it was as if France had sent a 
part of her better self — not a money-changer at the port, hut a 
hit of fragrance wafted across the seas to unite us by bonds 
closer than those made by the exchange of merchandise. 

He numbered among his friends the most illustrious men of 
France, England, Germany, and India. He wrote more than 
sixty treatises, chiefly upon botanical subjects, hut a number 
upon medical subjects. Among his best known works are his 
Flore d’Egypte , Memoires sur VFgypte , Flore du Mont Sinai , 
Voyage horticole et botanique en Belgique et en Hollande , These 
sur la phthisie pulmonaire , and Avis sur les dangers de V usage 
des champignons sauvages dans la cuisine. 

Rosa Pendleton Chiles. 

Note. — On account of Raffeneau Delile’s four years’ sojourn in 
Wilmington and the interesting fact of his introducing North Carolina 
plants into France, the author has felt justified in requesting the prep- 
aration of the foregoing sketch from French sources, there being, 
as far as can be ascertained, no adequate account in English, although 
Delile’s work is recognized by American botanists at the present day. 
The source from which Miss Chiles has drawn chiefly is M. Joly’s 
Elogtie Mstorique d'Alyre Raffeneau Delile, of which her sketch is in 
part a translation. 


(Extracts from the Memoirs of Gen. Joseph Gardner Swift, U. S. A., first graduate and 
afterwards commandant of the Military Academy of West Point.) 

Proceeding by the right hank of the Cape Fear River to 
Negro Head Point ferry, opposite Wilmington, I arrived at 
Mrs. Meeks’ hoarding-house in that town on June 17, 1805, the 
anniversary of the Battle of Bunker Hill, and on that day re- 
ported myself by letter to my chief, Major Wadsworth, at West 
Point, using the day and 1775 as the figurative date of my letter 
by way of friendly memento. After presenting my letter of 
introduction, I took the packet for Fort Johnston and there 
paid my respects to the commandant of the post, Lieut. John 
Fergus, an uncle of Cadet McRee, and commenced a happy 
acquaintance with the surgeon of the post, John Lightfoot 
Griffin, with whom I established quarters at Mrs. Ann McDon- 
ald’s. Here I also met Gen. Benjamin Smith, and to the last 

Early Years 


of the month had conferences with him as to the best mode of 
executing his contract with the War Department in the construc- 
tion of a battery on the site of old Fort Johnston, Smithville. 

Early in July I employed Mr. Wilson Davis, one of the most 
intelligent of the pilots, and with his aid I sounded the entrance 
over Main Bar, which is shifting sand, into the harbor of Cape 
Fear, and also the entrance at New Inlet, and then viewed the 
capacity of the anchorage within, together with the relative posi- 
tion of the several points of land near the entrances, of which I 
made a plot, and upon which I based my report of the 26th of 
July to the Secretary of War. The substance of this report was 
that the main objects to be secured were those that had been set 
forth by my late chief, Colonel Williams, to wit: to cover an 
anchorage in the harbor and to command its entrance by a small 
enclosed work on Oak Island, and an enclosed battery at Federal 
Point, at New Inlet, and also to complete the battery of tapia 
at the site of old Fort Johnston, the last being contracted for by 
Gen. Benjamin Smith. Pending the decision of the War De- 
partment upon this report, much of the summer was a leisure 
among agreeable families from Wilmington, that passed the 
warm season in slight frame houses at “The Fort,” as the vil- 
lage of Smithville is called. Among these was the family of 
Capt. James Walker, to whose daughter Louisa and her cousin 
Eliza Younger I was introduced at a dinner given to Dr. Griffin 
and myself by Captain Walker. There were the families of Mr. 
John Lord and of the founder of the place, Mr. Joshua Potts, 
and of Gen. Benjamin Smith, who was to construct the public 
work under contract, and of Captain Callender, the surveyor 
of the port, who had been an officer of the army in the War of 
the [Revolution, etc. General Smith became the governor of the 
State. He owned a large extent of property on Cape Fear 
River, and was of the family of Landgrave Thomas Smith, the 
colonial governor of South Carolina in the preceding century. 
He had become security for the collector of the port of Wilming- 
ton, who was a defaulter to the government, and it was to dis- 
charge this liability that General Smith had contracted to build 
the tapia work at the fort. His lady, Mrs. Sarah Dry Smith, 
was highly accomplished and was an hospitable friend to Dr. 
Griffin and myself, and one of the finest characters in the coun- 
try. She was the daughter and heiress of Col. William Dry, 
the former collector in the colonial time, and also of the King’s 
council. This lady was also a direct descendant from Crom- 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

well’s admiral, Robert Blake. There was also residing at the 
fort the family of Benjamin Blaney. A native he was of Rox- 
bury, near Boston. He had migrated to Carolina as a carpenter, 
and had by industry acquired a competence to enable him to 
dispense aid to the sick and needy and other charities, in the 
performance of which he was an example of usefulness, charity, 
and unostentation. Most of the families at the fort were Fed- 
eralists, and, though all deplored the event, they were the more 
sensibly impressed with the news of the death of Alexander 
Hamilton, who in this month of July had been slain in a duel 
with Colonel Burr, the account of which had been written to me 
by Colonel Williams. The whole Union was in a measure 
moved to grief by this sad event. Colonel Hamilton occupied a 
large space in the public mind. He had been the able leader of 
Federalism — of a class of men who may in truth be said to have 
been actuated by far higher motives than those of mere party. 

My advices from West Point were that Major Wadsworth, 
Capt. W. A. Barron and Mr. DeMasson formed the academic 
corps; that Lieutenant Wilson was on duty at Fort Mifflin, 
Lieutenant Macomb in South Carolina, and Lieutenant Arm- 
istead in Hew York. 

In my excursions on the water of Cape Fear I was aided by 
Captain Walker, Dr. Griffin, and Mr. Blaney, who as sports- 
men were familiar with the numerous shoals and channels and 
anchorages thereof, so that the returns were not only in game 
but also in giving me knowledge of the capacity of this harbor, 
situate as it is on one of the most shallow and troublesome 
coasts to navigators. The anchorage, covered from the ocean by 
Bald Head, or Smith’s Island, extending from the Main Bar to 
the Hew Inlet, and upon which island there is a growth of live 
oak and palmetto, and abounding with fallow deer. 

Intimacy with Mr. Walker furnished me with many items 
of the war in Carolina, with which he was familiar, although 
not taking part in the battles, for he had been a moderate Tory, 
averse to taking arms against the mother country, in which 
his friend and brother-in-law, Louis DeRosset, had influenced 
him. Mr. DeRosset was of the King’s council. Mr. Walker 
had been the executor of Gen. James Moore, the planner and 
director of the American force at the Battle of Moore’s Creek, 
fought by Lillington and Caswell. From the papers of that 
officer he had gathered many an anecdote of the march of Corn- 
wallis. Mr. Walker had been in the Regulators’ War of 1770 

Early Years 


and then commanded a company in the Battle of Alamance, in 
the western part of the State. He was cured of much of his 
Toryism by the tyrannical conduct of Maj. J. H. Craig, the 
British governor at Wilmington, afterwards governor-general of 
Canada. The conduct of this man had been oppressive and 
needlessly cruel to the people of Wilmington, and Captain 
Walker had been able to influence some relief for those who 
were in arrest, etc. He and his brother-in-law, John DuBois, 
had been appointed commissioners to arrange the cartel of pris- 
oners, and to negotiate for the families who were to leave Wil- 
mington when Cornwallis marched to Virginia, thus showing 
the confidence that both Whig and Tory had reposed in those 
gentlemen. Mr. Walker’s family were of the settlers called 
“Retainers,” coming from Ireland under the auspices of Col- 
onel Sampson and of his father, Robert Walker. Among the 
families of “Retainers” were those of the Holmeses, Owens, 
Kenans, etc., now become independent planters and distin- 
guished citizens. The father of Captain Walker, the above 
Robert, was of the same family with that of the Protestant hero, 
the Rev. George Walker, of Londonderry. The mother of Cap- 
tain Walker was Ann, of the family of Montgomery, of Mount 
Alexander in Ireland, who had made a runaway match with 
Robert Walker. Capt. James Walker married Magdalen M. 
DuBois, the daughter of John DuBois and Gabriella DeRosset, 
his wife. 

In the month of September, in reply to my report of the 26th 
of July, I received orders from the War Department to proceed 
with as much of the work therein contemplated as was embraced 
in General Smith’s contract upon the tapia work at the site of 
old Fort Johnston, that had been there constructed in 1748 
by His Excellency Gabriel Johnston, then colonial governor. 
In clearing away the sand I found much of the old tapia walls 
far superior to our contemplated plan for the battery of tapia. 

Soon after this the slaves of General Smith commenced the 
burning of lime in pens, called kilns, made of sapling pines 
formed in squares containing from one thousand to one thou- 
sand two hundred bushels of oyster shells (alive) collected in 
scows from the shoals in the harbor — there abundant. These 
pens were filled with alternate layers of shells and “lightwood” 
from pitch pine, and thus were burned in about one day — very 
much to the annoyance of the neighborhood by the smoke and 
vapor of burning shellfish, when the wind was strong enough to 

138 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

spread the fumes of the kilns. In the succeeding month of 
November I commenced the battery by constructing boxes of the 
dimensions of the parapet, six feet high by seven in thickness, 
into which boxes were poured the tapia composition, consisting 
of equal parts of lime, raw shells, and sand and water sufficient 
to form a species of paste, or batter, as the negroes term it. 

At the close of this month of November a large Spanish ship 
called the Bilboa was cast away on Cape Fear in a storm. It 
was alleged by the crew, who were brought by Pilot Davis to 
my quarters, that the ship was laden with sugar, and that there 
was much specie in the run ; that the captain and mate had died 
at sea, and that having no navigator on board they had put the 
ship before the wind and run her on shore near the cape. There 
were twenty-one in this crew, a villainous looking set of rascals, 
that I had no doubt they were. Lieutenant Fergus detained 
them in the block-house at the fort until the collector sent in- 
spectors to conduct the crew to Charleston, where the ship was 
known to some merchant. These men all had more or less of 
dollars in their red woolen sashes tied around their waists. On 
their arrival in Charleston they were detained some time, but 
no proof could be found against them and they went free. The 
pilots and others were for some time after this exploring the 
remains of the wreck, but nothing was found among the drift 
save spars and rigging. 


Let us contrast the swift steamer Wilmington with the primi- 
tive example of former days — let us turn back for three-quarters 
of a century, when the town of Wilmington contained only a 
tenth of its present population, and recall an incident, related to 
the writer by the late Col. J. G. Burr, which created the great- 
est excitement at the time, and which was the occasion of the 
wildest exuberance of feeling among the usually staid inhabi- 
tants of the town — the arrival of the first steamboat in the Cape 
Fear River. A joint stock company had been formed for the 
purpose of having a steamer built to ply between Wilmington 
and Smithville or Wilmington and Fayetteville. Capt. Otway 
Burns, of privateer Snap-Dragon fame during the War of 1812, 
was the contractor. The boat was built at Beaufort, where he 
resided. When the company was informed that the steamer was 

Early Years 


finished and ready for delivery, they dispatched an experienced 
sea captain to take command and bring her to her destined port. 
Expectations were on tiptoe after the departure of the captain ; 
a feverish excitement existed in the community, which daily 
increased, as nothing was heard from him for a time, owing to 
the irregularity of the mails ; hut early one morning this anxiety 
broke into the wildest enthusiasm when it was announced that 
the Prometheus was in the river and had turned the Dram Tree. 
Bells were rung, cannon fired, and the entire population, with- 
out regard to age, sex, or color, thronged the wharves to welcome 
her arrival. The tide was at the ebb, and the struggle between 
the advancing steamer and the fierce current was a desperate 
one; for she panted fearfully, as though wind-blown and ex- 
hausted. She could be seen in the distance, enveloped in smoke, 
and the scream of her high-pressure engine reverberated through 
the woods, while she slowly but surely crept along. As she 
neared Market Dock, where the steamer Wilmington is at pres- 
ent moored, the captain called through his speaking-trumpet to 
the engineer below : “Give it to her, Snyder” ; and while Sny- 
der gave her all the steam she could bear, the laboring Prome- 
theus snorted by, amid the cheers of the excited multitude. In 
those days the river traffic was sustained by sailing sloops and 
small schooners, with limited passenger accommodations and less 
comfort. The schedule time to Smithville, was four hours, wind 
and weather permitting, and the fare was one dollar each way. 

Note. — Steamboats were used on the Cape Fear very soon after their 
introduction. On October 16, 1818, the Henrietta began to run regu- 
larly between Wilmington and Fayetteville, and in April, 1819, Presi- 
dent Monroe was carried on the Prometheus from Wilmington to Smith- 
ville. The Prometheus was probably on the river long before 1819. 


The growth of Wilmington was naturally slow, notwithstand- 
ing the energy of the inhabitants. Indeed, because of the con- 
stant exodus of North Carolinians to the new country at the 
West and South, the population of the State hardly increased 
at all during the early years of the last century. The popula- 
tion of New Hanover County in 1810 was 11,465, and in 1820 
it had fallen off to 10,866. In 1820 the population of Wil- 
mington was, whites, 1,098, slaves, 1,433, free negroes, 102 — a 
total of 2,633. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Especially, because of the absence of good roads and facilities 
for transportation — save by the river to Fayetteville — there was 
but little opportunity for extending the trade of the town. 

Further, the trouble with England, the embargo, the inter- 
ruption of commerce by the War of 1812, with the attendant 
financial embarrassments, brought loss and ruin in their train. 

Superadded was the scourge of yellow fever during the sum- 
mer of 1819, the disease in that season being more prevalent 
throughout the Southern and Middle Atlantic States than had 
at any other time been known. Baltimore, as well as the more 
southern ports, was entirely paralyzed. As in 1862, many 
families fled from Wilmington into the interior. 

Hardly had the desolation subsided and commerce revived, 
when Wilmington was visited by the most disastrous conflagra- 
tion recorded in its history. The total loss, as stated by some 
standard authorities, was about one million dollars, but the 
Cape Fear Recorder estimated it at between six and seven hun- 
dred thousand dollars — an almost total obliteration of the 
wealth of the town. 

We quote from the Raleigh Register and North Carolina 
State Gazette of Friday, November 12, 1819 : 

It is our painful duty to register a very extensive and calamitous 
fire which took place at Wilmington in our State; and we do it 
with those strong feelings of sympathy and regret which such events 
naturally inspire. We cannot portray the circumstances in which the 
town was placed more feelingly than it is depicted by the Editor of 
the Cape Fear Recorder ; “who feels them most can paint them best.” 

Fire! Wilmington (says the Recorder) has experienced more awful 
calamities by fire than any other place in the Union. Thrice, within 
twenty years, has the devouring element laid in ashes the abodes of 
her inhabitants. Enterprise, industry, and the assistance of her neigh- 
bors, gave her, measurably, resuscitation, until the recent pressure 
of the times bended her down almost to the sinking point. Em- 
barrassments in pecuniary matters had reached that state which ap- 
peared to baffle relief. Sickness and death followed in the melancholy 
train. Despair had almost concluded that she could not sink beyond 
this. Hope, the bright luminary by which man’s path in this world 
of care is heightened and cheered, brought consolation, and pointed 
to better days. Disease had ceased — the periodical work of death 
completed — the late deserted abodes of her inhabitants filling — vessels 
arriving daily in her port — the appearance of business reviving. On 
Thursday morning, the 4th inst., about three o’clock, the cry of fire was 
given, and the delusion vanished. Her bright hopes were destroyed. 

The frightful picture is before us and it is our duty to present it to 
our distant readers. The fire originated back of a small building 

Early Years 


occupied by Mr. Samuel Adkins as a grocery store, situated on the 
wharf, near Dock Street, and adjoining the large brick warehouse 
lately occupied as the ’76 Coffee-house, in part of which was the office 
and counting house of Gabriel Holmes, Esq. 

From the best calculation we can make, the whole number of houses 
destroyed was about three hundred, of every description, including the 
Presbyterian Church, lately erected; and the total loss of property 
between six and seven hundred thousand dollars. 

The following persons are those who have lost by the destruction of 
buildings : 

Col. Archibald F. McNeill, John London, Col. Thomas Cowan, John 
Swann, jr., William McKay, Estate of Thomas Jennings, Seth Hoard, 
Joseph Kellogg, Estate of J. London, Mrs. McRee, Jacob Levy, Richard 
Bradley, Edward B. Dudley, William J. Love, S. Springs, James 
Dickson, Hanson Kelly, David Smith, Henry Urquhart, John Walker, 
George Jennings, Robert Rankin, State Bank, Estate of Nehemiah 
Harris, Estate of James Allen, M. Blake, Estate of M. Murphy, James 
Usher, Mrs. Hoskins, Mrs. Toomer, William Harris, James Marshall, 
Estate of P. Harris, Louis Paggett, Estate of Hilliary Moore, Reuben 
Loring, William C. Lord, Gilbert Geer. This list is no doubt incomplete. 

Among those who suffered by the destruction of other property the 
principal in amount are, Isaac Arnold, Edmund Bridge, jr., Eleazar 
Tilden, Dudley and Van Cleff, Dudley and Dickinson, Miles Blake, 
Seth Hoard, Richard Lloyd, J. Angomar, George Lloyd, H. Wooster, 
Patrick Murphy, B. C. Gillett, W. C. Radcliffe, Stewart Robson. 

It is almost impossible to ascertain the amount of individual losses. 
Every person within the bounds of the fire, and all those without it 
who removed their property, lost more or less. But the extent of a 
loss, as it regards merely its amount, is not the criterion of its injury — 
it is he that has lost his all, the unprotected, the friendless, and the 
helpless, that ought to excite our pity and compassion, and calls for 
our assistance. 

Only one life was lost — Capt. Farquhar McRae, after the fire had 
almost subsided, who ventured within a building for the purpose of 
saving property not his own. The walls fell, he was crushed to atoms. 
He was a useful citizen in his sphere of life and would have been 
regretted even had he died on the couch of disease. 

To the sufferings of others Wilmington has never remained indif- 
ferent — limited as were her means, to know them was all that was 
necessary for her to contribute her mite. She is now in distress — 
hundreds of her inhabitants are suffering. The knowledge of her 
situation will, we are certain, confer relief. 

And all this is the work of an incendiary. Suspicion has been afloat, 
but we suspect it has not been directed toward the right person. 
Higher views than those of plunder must have been the object, for we 
have heard of not much success and of very few attempts. 

(Raleigh Register and North Carolina State Gazette, Friday, December 3, 1819.) 

Wilmington Fire — We have pleasure in stating that a subscription 
has been opened for the relief of the sufferers by this disastrous event, 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

not only among the citizens of Raleigh, but among the members of 
both houses of the Legislature. The precise amount is not at present 
ascertained; hut we trust it will be such as will show the liberality 
of the subscribers, considering the hardness of the times. 

Other Early Fires. 

In the preface to his History of New Hanover County , pub- 
lished in 1909, Col. Alfred Moore Waddell said : 

“What is called the Lower Cape Fear region of North Caro- 
lina has long been recognized by the writers of our history as 
the most interesting and, as one of them designated it, ‘the most 
romantic’ section of our State. Yet, up to this time, although 
partial sketches, historical and biographical, have appeared, no 
attempt at a regular history of it has been published, and now 
such a history cannot he written because of the destruction, by 
fire and other agencies, of a large part of the material requisite 
for the purpose. There was, perhaps, no part of the country 
where so many planters’ residences with all their contents were 
lost by fire as on the Cape Fear and its tributaries, and it is well 
known among the descendants of those planters, some of whom 
were members of the learned professions, that by these fires 
many manuscripts, family records, and documents of various 
kinds that would have been invaluable as material for the prep- 
aration of a local history, were lost. Besides these fires on the 
plantations, the town of Wilmington was, at an early period, as 
well as several times afterwards, nearly destroyed in the same 
way, with the same results. 

“None of the ancient official records of the town of Bruns- 
wick were preserved, and a considerable part of the county 
records was destroyed by Northern soldiers when the town of 
Smithville was captured by them in 1865. Some of the town 
records of Wilmington of an early period have also disap- 

Many years ago, I searched in vain the ruins of the first settle- 
ment of Charlestown, at Town Creek, for records of that date, 
but my search was rewarded later by the discovery in the ruins 
of a house, said to have been the residence of Nathaniel Rice, 
of the hook of entries and clearances of the port of Brunswick 
in a partly mutilated condition. I also searched at Lilliput 
among the ruins of Eleazar Allen’s residence, without result; 
also, the ruins of Governor Tryon’s Castle Tryon, or palace, at 
Orton, which revealed a piece of pottery stamped “W. Dry, 

Early Years 


Cape Fear, 1765/’ and a large bunch of housekeeper’s keys 
upon an iron ring and hook which fitted into a leather belt with 
a spring by which a key could be withdrawn and replaced. 
Other relics of less importance were discovered, but no papers. 
All of these ruins, as well as the ruins of St. Philip’s Church, 
showed the devastation of fire in charred woodwork and melted 
colored glass. 

As early as 1771, Wilmington suffered from a terrible con- 
flagration, and an act of Assembly was passed to regulate the 
affairs of the town, in view of possible fires. In the account 
just given of the destruction wrought in 1819, it is mentioned 
that, in the previous twenty years, there had been several de- 
structive conflagrations. 

Mr. J. T. James says: “Wilmington, in common with many 
other of her sister towns and cities, has suffered often and seri- 
ously from the terrible scourge of fire ; so much so, indeed, that 
these visitations have, from time to time, seriously retarded its 
growth. Scarcely would the citizens recover from the effects 
of one blow, ere they would be called upon to suffer again. The 
old chronicles tell us that in November, 1798, a most destructive 
fire occurred. On July 22, 1810, three stores and five houses, 
situated near what is now the corner of Market and Second 
| Streets, but then known as Mud Market, were consumed by fire 
caused by lightning. In 1819, there was a most terrible confla- 
gration, and the four squares bounded by Water, Princess, Sec- 
ond, and Dock Streets were destroyed. In 1827, the square 
south of the site of the present market house was again burned. 
In 1840 the square north of the market was consumed for the 
second time, together with the courthouse, which then stood at 
the intersection of Front and Market Streets. In 1843 occurred 
one of the most serious conflagrations of any ever experienced. 
On April 30 of that year a fire originated in the alley just north 
j of the Cape Fear Bank building and swept with rapid strides 
to the north. All exertions to check it were in vain, and it was 
\ not until everything west of Front Street and north of the bank 
alley and portions of every square east of the same street and 
bordering upon it and north of Chestnut were consumed, that 
\ its fiery course could be stopped. This fire also destroyed the 

j workshops and buildings of the Wilmington and Weldon Bail- 

road Company, and the Methodist Episcopal Church, then situ- 
ated, as now, upon the corner of Front and Walnut Streets, 
j Three years afterwards, in 1846, the square next south of the 

144 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

market house was again and for the third time destroyed by 

Reference was made to two of these fires hy Sir Charles Lyell, 
the famous geologist, who was in Wilmington in December, 
1841, and again in January, 1842, and still again in December, 
1845. In a letter written by him from Wilmington in Decem- 
ber, 1845, he said: “The streets which had just been laid in 

ashes when we were here four years ago are now rebuilt; hut 
there has been another fire this year, imputed very generally to 
incendiarism, because it broke out in many places at once. There 
has been a deficiency of firemen, owing to the State having dis- 
continued the immunity from militia duty, formerly conceded 
to those who served the fire engines.” Some mention of the fire 
of 1843 is also made in the article on Governor Dudley. 


I find in the annual report of William P. Craighill, then 
major of Engineers, and brevet lieutenant colonel, United States 
Army, for the year 1873, a brief history of old surveys and maps 
and charts made of the Cape Fear River between its mouth and 
the port of Wilmington, which is a record of some value to us. I 
have also found in the records of the War Department of 1828, 
a lengthy report hy Capt. Hartman Bache, of the Engineer 
Corps, transmitted hy Maj. Gen. Alexander MacComb, chief 
engineer, to Hon. James Barbour, Secretary of War, who in 
turn transmitted it to Congress, which had called for it hy reso- 
lution dated the 20th of December, 1827. This report is not 
only interesting but valuable, as it indicates the initial measures 
recommended and subsequently carried out hy the Federal Gov- 
ernment for the removal of obstructions to navigation between 
the bar and the port of Wilmington, the navigation of the river 
being greatly hampered hy shoal water, which afforded, under 
the most favorable conditions, a channel of less than nine feet. 

It also appears from this report and from other data, that the 
State work under Mr. Hamilton Fulton, State engineer in 1823, 
was unsuccessful and was condemned in its most important fea- 
tures hy Captain Bache and hy those who were directly inter- 
ested in the commerce of the Cape Fear River. 

About the year 1819 the State authorized Mr. Peter Brown, 
an eminent lawyer residing at Raleigh, then intending to visit 

Early Years 


Great Britain, to employ an engineer for the purpose of im- 
proving onr rivers and water transportation; and Mr. Brown 
engaged Hamilton Fulton, at a salary of $5,000. 

The work of putting in the jetties below Wilmington seems 
to have been under Mr. Fulton’s direction; hut it is said that 
the engineer in charge was Mr. Hinton James, 1 who had been 
the first student to enter the State University. Afterwards, 
Mr. James, it is said, was mayor of Wilmington; and he lived 
in the town to a ripe old age. Mr. Fulton’s work may have been 
founded on correct principles, hut his plans, not only for the 
Cape Fear River, hut for other improvements, were beyond the 
financial resources of the State, and after some years they were 

Steamboat Line to Charleston. 

The progress of river improvement by the Federal Govern- 
ment during a period of ten years, from 1829 to 1839, was 
very slow, and it resulted in a gain of only two feet depth below 
Wilmington; hut, after an hiatus of eight years, in 1847 it be- 
gan to he pushed forward with great diligence and success from 
Wilmington to the sea, resulting in a safer channel of thirteen 
feet at high water and nine feet at low water. It is notable that 
in 1853 some of the citizens of Wilmington, enterprising men 
that they were, impatient at the slowness with which river and 
harbor hills were passed by Congress and anxious to continue 
the work without interruption, subscribed $60,000 (a large sum 
in those days for a small community) in furtherance of the im- 
provement of the river and bar under the direction of an officer 
of the United States Engineer Corps. This was officially ap- 
proved June 9, 1853, by Hon. Jefferson Davis, Secretary of 
War. The officer in charge of the work was General Woodbury, 
who married a daughter of General Childs. Meanwhile, there 
was much enterprise shown by the merchants of Wilmington in 
shipbuilding, in a large and increasing turpentine and lumber 
trade, in the establishment of packet lines to Baltimore, Phila- 
delphia, and Hew York, and in a daily mail steamboat line to 
Charleston, consisting of the steamers Vanderbilt , North Caro- 
lina , Gladiator , and Dudley. 

Hlis tombstone was recently discovered by Rev. Andrew J. Howell, of 
Wilmington, in the graveyard of the old Hopewell Presbyterian Church 
in the northern part of Pender County, formerly a part of New Han- 
over County. The inscription on the plain marble slab states that Mr. 
James was born September 20, 1776, and died August 22, 1847. 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

The following remarkable official statement was made by the 
United States engineers in 1853 : 

“The Cape Fear River is the natural and actual outlet of the 
products of 28 or more counties in North Carolina and of sev- 
eral counties in South Carolina. In one item of future exports 
other Southern States are interested and the whole country must 
be so in time of war : Coal in large quantities and of an excel- 
lent quality has been found upon the waters of the Cape Fear, 
about 120 miles from its mouth, and at no distant day, it is 
supposed, will become a regular article of export. We may, 
therefore, have — what must be regarded as a national benefit 
at all times, and in time of war as of very great importance — a 
depot of coal upon the Cape Fear, independent of supply from 
the North, and beyond the reach of the enemy. But this depot 
will, in great measure, be lost to the country unless the Cape 
Fear shall be improved so as to admit our ships of war.” 

Unfortunately, the mining of this coal a few years later did 
not prove a success. 

Congressional Aid to River Improvement. 

It was not until 1826 that Congress began to make appropria- 
tions for river and harbor improvements, and three years later 
the Cape Fear River was included in the list. For ten years an 
annual appropriation of $20,000 was regularly made, and then 
because of a change in public policy such appropriations ceased. 
The Democratic party was opposed to internal improvements at 
the expense of the government. From 1838 to 1866 only a few 
river and harbor bills were passed. Mr. William S. Ashe, the 
representative from the Cape Fear district in 1854, differed 
with his party on the subject of internal improvements and suc- 
ceeded in getting through a bill carrying $140,000 for the Cape 
Fear River, the particular object being to close New Inlet, 
forcing all the water of the stream over the Main Bar. In order 
to accomplish his purpose he had to persuade many of his Demo- 
cratic associates to withdraw from the chamber, and so many 
withdrew that, although his bill received a large affirmative vote, 
there was no quorum, and he had to call in others to make a 
quorum. On the final vote the bill passed, but there were still 
more than eighty Democrats absent. That was the beginning 
of the effort to close New Inlet, which was nearly accomplished 
when the war stopped operations, but when blockade running 
began, every one rejoiced that the inlet was still open. 

Early Years 


In after years Senator Ransom exerted himself with success 
for the improvement of the river, but the greatest improvement 
has been accomplished under the influence of Senator Simmons, 
at the time acting chairman of the Committee on Commerce, 
having such matters in charge. He has secured a 26-foot chan- 
nel, increasing immensely the commercial facilities of Wilming- 
ton, which her business men have quickly developed. Senator 
Simmons has likewise secured the adoption of a project to canal- 
ize the river from Wilmington to Fayetteville, and has been a 
strenuous advocate of the Coastal Canal, now about to he con- 
structed. He has long appreciated the value of inland water- 
ways and was a member of the Commission on Waterways sent 
to Europe by Congress a few years ago. In 1909 he was a 
prime factor in securing the adoption of the proposition to have 
a survey made for an intercoastal waterway from Boston to the 
Rio Grande. In 1912 he secured the adoption of the Norfolk 
and Beaufort section of that great undertaking and the purchase 
by the government of the Albemarle and Chesapeake Canal. 
He also secured the deepening of that waterway to twelve feet. 

The River and Harbor Bill now pending carries a provision 
for a survey to increase the depth of water from Wilmington to 
thirty-five feet. 


In March, 1833, the commissioners of the city of Fayetteville 
were instructed to negotiate a loan of $200,000 to he invested in 
the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Railroad, which, with indi- 
vidual subscriptions, would be more than enough for the organi- 
zation of the company, and work could be begun in the spring 
of 1834. 

On May 1, 1833, the People's Press advertised that the sub- 
scribers to the stock of the Cape Fear and Yadkin Valley Rail- 
road, by applying to Dr. William P. Hort, would be refunded 
the amount of money paid by them on their shares, after deduct- 
ing 12 per cent for disbursements. It was further stated that 
the project was abandoned because of lack of support by the in- 
habitants of the western section, who would not contribute one 
cent to the enterprise of establishing a railroad from the sea- 
board to the mountains. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

The First Declaration of State Policy. 

On July 4, 1833, the Internal Improvement Convention 
assembled in Raleigh with one hundred and twenty delegates, 
representing twenty-one counties in the eastern and northern 
sections. It seems to have been the first concerted effort towards 
organized action looking to the establishment of a railroad. 
Governor *Swain presided and Gen. Samuel F. Patterson and 
Mr. Charles Manly were appointed secretaries. The personnel 
of the convention must have been remarkable, as the record 
says “So many distinguished and talented men are said never 
before to have assembled in the State.” 

In this convention Governor Graham, then in the prime of his 
rare powers, urged as the internal-improvement policy of the 
State, three north-and-south lines of railroad. He was antago- 
nized by Joseph Alston Hill, of Wilmington, one of the most 
gifted orators of that period, who advocated east-and-west lines, 
marketing the products of the State through North Carolina 
ports. It was a battle of giants, and Hill won the victory. 

The convention adopted resolutions to the effect that the Gen- 
eral Assembly ought to raise by loan such sums as will “afford 
substantial assistance in the prosecution of the public works; 
that no work should be encouraged for conveying produce to a 
primary market out of the State ; that the Legislature he asked 
to take two-fifths of the stock of companies ; that a Correspond- 
ing Committee of twenty he appointed in each county, and that 
a second convention he held on the fourth Monday in Novem- 

The delegates from Wake, Johnston, Lenoir, Wayne, Samp- 
son, Craven, and New Hanover resolved that “means he devised 
for carrying into effect the scheme of a railroad from Raleigh 
to Waynesboro (Goldsboro), and thence to Wilmington.” 

The committee for the town of Wilmington was composed of 
Edward B. Dudley, William B. Meares, William P. Hort, 
Joseph A. Hill, and Alexander MacRae. Circulars were issued 
to the citizens of Wake, Johnston, Wayne, Sampson, Duplin, 
New Hanover, and Brunswick to ascertain what amount of aid 
they would contribute, and stating that $113,000 had been sub- 
scribed by the citizens of Wilmington, and that a total of 
$150,000 would be raised. 

In July, 1833, the citizens of Wilmington formulated a prop- 
osition to make application to the Legislature to incorporate the 

Early Years 


town of Wilmington, the object being to raise funds on which 
immediate action could be taken in the construction of rail- 
roads; but in January, 1834, the bill “to incorporate the city 
of Wilmington and extend the limits thereof” was rejected. 

The Origin of the Railroad Project. 

Communication from Wilmington to the North was by means 
of an occasional packet ship and two lines of stages, one by way 
of New Bern and the other through Fayetteville and Raleigh. 

The commerce of the town had but slowly increased and the 
future prospect was gloomy. A railroad or two, very short lines, 
had been constructed elsewhere, and this new method of travel 
was being talked about ; but as yet it had not been proven a suc- 
cess. 1 Such was the situation when Mr. P. K. Dickinson, a 
young Northern man who had located in the town, went one 
summer to New England and saw there a little railroad in 
operation. It had only wooden stringers, with narrow, thin, flat 
iron on top, and the carriages were of light construction. Mr. 
Dickinson was greatly impressed with its capabilities. Con- 
vinced of its success, he became enthusiastic, and hurried back 
to Wilmington with the news that he had found what was needed 
to assure the future welfare of the town — a railroad. He was 
so enthusiastic, so insistent and persistent, that his idea took 
shape, and the people determined to have a railroad. With 
Wilmington to resolve is to act, and the Wilmington and Raleigh 
Road was chartered ; but Raleigh would not subscribe, while the 
Edgecombe people would, so, although the line from Wilming- 
ton to Goshen pointed to Raleigh, the construction was north- 
ward to Weldon. Mr. Dickinson was one of the chief promoters 
and remained through life the leading director. He was one of 
the most useful, most esteemed and valued citizens of the town, 
and his large lumber plant, located north of the railroad ter- 
minal, was one of the great industries of Wilmington. 

ir rhe first American-built locomotive was put on the South Carolina 
Railroad, November 2, 1830. The first roads were operated by horse- 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 


In January, 1834, the bill to incorporate the Wilmington and 
Raleigh Railroad became a law; but the terms of the charter 
were so restricted that an amended charter was obtained in 
December, 1835, conferring larger privileges and changing the 
course of the proposed road. At the time of granting the first 
charter it was the intention to construct a railroad merely to. 
connect the principal seaport with the seat of the government; 
but, as the project was more thoroughly considered, the advan- 
tages of building to some point on the Roanoke to connect with 
the Virginia lines, thereby completing one of the important 
links in the line of iron rail that was to extend from Maine to 
Florida, was realized, and in the amended charter the new cor- 
poration was given the privilege of changing its destination. 

The first meeting of the stockholders was held on March 14, 
1836, in the Wilmington Courthouse, and organized by electing 
Edward B. Dudley president (at a salary of $2,000), and the 
following directors: Andrew Joyner, W. D. Moseley, James S. 
Battle, Aaron Lazarus, Alexander Anderson, William B. Meares, 
James Owen, P. K. Dickinson, R. H. Cowan, and Thomas H. 
Wright. Gen. Alexander MacRae was elected superintendent, 
and James S. Green, secretary and treasurer. After passing 
several resolutions and agreeing to start the building of the road 
at both Halifax and Wilmington at the same time, the meeting 
adjourned to meet again on the first Monday in November and 
thereafter annually on the first Monday in May. After Mr. 
Dudley was elected governor, he was succeeded in the presi- 
dency by Gen. James Owen. 

The building of the road was commenced in October, 1836, 
although little was done until January, 1837, and on March 7, 
1840, the last spike was driven. Its actual length was 161% 
miles, and at the time of its completion it had the following 
equipment: Twelve locomotives, which were named, Nash, 

Wayne (built by R. Stephenson & Co., Newcastle-on-Tyne, Eng- 
land), New Hanover, Edgecombe , Brunswick, Duplin, and 
Bladen (built by William Norris, Philadelphia, Pa.), Greene, 
Halifax, and Sampson (built by Burr & Sampson, Richmond, 
Va.), etc. There were also in use eight 8-wheel passenger 
coaches, 4 post-office cars, 50 freight cars, and 4 steamers, viz. : 

Early Years 151 

the North Carolina, Wilmington, Governor Dudley , and Corne- 
lius Vanderbilt. 

The entire road was constructed under the following super- 
vision : Walter Gwyn, chief engineer ; Alexander MacRae, super- 
intendent; Matthew T. Goldsborough, principal assistant engi- 
neer of the Southern Division, and Francis N. Barbarin, prin- 
cipal assistant engineer of the Northern Division. The road was 
first laid with plate iron 2 inches by % inch on wooden stringers. 

On April 5, 1840, the celebration of the completion of the 
railroad was held in Wilmington. The report says : 

“A large number of gentlemen assembled in the town from 
various parts of the State and from Virginia and South Caro- 
lina at an early hour in the morning. The bells gave out sonor- 
ous peals and the shipping in the harbor came up, their flags 
waving. Cannon were fired every fifteen minutes throughout 
the day, with a national salute at meridian. At 2 p. m. a pro- 
cession, composed of invited guests and citizens, including the 
president, directors, and officers of other roads, the Board of In- 
ternal Improvement, the Literary Board, the president, direct- 
ors, engineers, agents and others in the employ of the Wilming- 
ton and Raleigh Railroad, was formed on Front Street, under 
the direction of Gen. Alexander MacRae, marshal of the day, 
assisted by Maj. R. F. Brown, and marched thence to the dinner 
table, escorted by the Wilmington Volunteers with their fine 
band of music. 

“The dinner was set out at the depot under sheds temporarily 
prepared for the purpose. About five hundred and fifty were at 
the tables, which were amply prepared for hungry men. 

“Gen. James Owen, the president of the company, presided, 
assisted by the directors, acting as vice presidents. Good feel- 
ing ruled the hour and good cheer gave quick wings to the nurs- 
lings of wit. 

“Then followed a number of toasts — fifty-seven toasts and 
eleven letters with toasts.” 

Other reports are as follows : 

Nov. 8, 1841. — “Annual meeting of the stockholders of the 
Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad Co. Gen. James Owen de- 
clined further service as president. Edward B. Dudley was 
elected in his stead and the following gentlemen were elected 
directors : P. K. Dickinson, Alexander Anderson, Thomas H. 
Wright, Robert H. Cowan, of Wilmington, Samuel Potter, of 
Smithville, and B. F. Moore, of Halifax.” 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

JSTov. 1842. — “ Annual meeting of the stockholders of the Wil- 
mington and Raleigh Railroad Co. Edward B. Dudley was 
reelected president. Directors : Alexander Anderson, P. K. 
Dickinson, Samuel Potter, James S. Battle, A. J. DeRosset, 
and James T. Miller.” 

Hov. 12, 1847. — “The annual meeting of the stockholders of 
the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad was held here. Gen. 
Alexander MacRae was elected president and E. B. Dudley, 
P. K. Dickinson, Gilbert Potter, James T. Miller, O. G. Pars- 
ley, and William A. Wright, directors. (The same as last year 
except William A. Wright in the place of Dr. John Hill, de- 

At this last meeting it was resolved, “That the stockholders of 
the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad Co., in general meeting 
assembled, do hereby pledge to the Wilmington and Manchester 
Railroad Co. a subscription of $100,000, to he paid on the com- 
pletion of the said Manchester Railroad from the proceeds of 
the sale of steamboat and other property, which will at that time 
become unnecessary for the purpose of this company : Provided 
that our Legislature take such action as may authorize said sub- 

Hov. 10, 1848. — “Annual meeting of the stockholders of the 
Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad Co. Ho change made in the 
president or Board of Directors, except four directors on the 
part of the State were to he appointed by the Internal Improve- 
ment Board.” 

In December, 1848, a bill was introduced in the Legislature 
authorizing the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad Company to 
mortgage the road and its appurtenances for about $600,000 for 
the purpose of purchasing iron to relay its tracks, and in Janu- 
ary, 1849, $620,000 was authorized and an extension of ten 
years granted for the repayment to the State of $300,000 for 
money borrowed. Dr. A. J. DeRosset was sent to England, 
where he purchased 8,000 tons of iron, to be paid for by the 
bonds of the company secured by mortgage on the road. 

The rail commenced to arrive in October, 1849, and in Janu- 
ary, 1850, Congress passed an act for the relief of the Wilming- 
ton and Raleigh Railroad, providing for the paying of import 
duties on the rail by deducting annually the amounts due from 
the Post Office Department for carrying the mails. It was then 
the T-rail was introduced, which superseded the flat iron. 

In August, 1850, Dr. John D. Bellamy, of Wilmington, was 

Early Years 


elected to succeed Col. James T. Miller as a director, and in 
November of the same year, at the regular meeting of the Board 
of Directors, Gen. Alexander MacRae and the entire Board of 
Directors were reelected. A surplus of $45,000 was directed to 
be applied to the extinguishment of the debts of the company. 

It was about this time that the Wilmington and Manchester 
Railroad was completed, giving a through rail connection to 
the South, and thus making still more important the Wilming- 
ton and Weldon Railroad, as the Wilmington and Raleigh Rail- 
road came to be called, its name being changed by the Legisla- 
ture in 1855. 

It is interesting to note, with reference to the far-seeing quali- 
ties of the men of 1835 and 1836, that a few years ago the 
chairman of the board discovered a letter written in the fine 
Spencerian hand of Governor Dudley, the first president, out- 
lining the policy for the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad, in 
view of his resignation in order to enter Congress. The extraor- 
dinary character of this proposed policy revealed the fact that 
the policy of the Coast Line under its new administration has 
been following precisely the line of action indicated by Governor 
Dudley at the beginning of its existence. 

The Longest Railroad in the World. 

Probably the most momentous, the most dramatic incident in 
the commercial history of Wilmington occurred in the fall of 
1835 in the south wing of Gov. Edward B. Dudley’s residence 
at the southwest corner of Front and Nun Streets, where a num- 
ber of prominent Wilmington citizens had assembled to sub- 
scribe their names to the stock of an extraordinary adventure — 
the building of a railroad from Wilmington to Raleigh, to be 
called the Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad. 

The town contained at that time a population of about three 
thousand souls, a majority of whom were negro slaves, and here 
an assembly of about twenty courageous men of the little corpo- 
ration actually subscribed a larger sum than the entire taxables 
of Wilmington amounted to in that year to build the longest 
railroad in the world. It is well to remember, in our boasted age 
of progress, the splendid example of the fathers of 1835, whose 
foresight and self-sacrifice laid the foundations of our success. 
Perhaps the largest subscription was that of Governor Dudley — 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

During the years that followed, the most important topic of 
local concern was the railroad, which so overtaxed the means of 
its promoters that even with the added endorsement of the di- 
rectors its official order for a hundred dozen shovels was rejected. 

The late Robert B. Wood, one of the railroad contractors of 
1836 and later, informed me many years ago, that this incident 
led to a proposal by the railroad directors and contractors that 
Mr. John Dawson, then a prosperous dry-goods merchant on 
Market Street and a stockholder in the railroad, should add to 
his business a hardware department, comprising tools and im- 
plements needed for railroad work, assuring him of their un- 
divided patronage. This was agreed to, and the well-known 
extensive hardware establishment of John Dawson, which led 
that business until Mr. Dawson died, had its origin and ad- 
vancement in that way. 

Mr. Wood also informed me that the method of advertising 
the meetings of stockholders and directors, which were often 
held, was unique. He owned a docile gray mare which was 
frequently borrowed by the officials on urgent business, and also 
used to make known the meetings by a large placard hung on 
either side of the saddle, in which a negro slave rode constantly 
ringing a large brass hand-bell, and parading the principal 
streets, proclaiming “Railroad meeting tonight.” 

Some of the newspaper illustrations of the “cars,” as the 
train was termed in its early days, show a vehicle closely re- 
sembling the old stagecoach, with a greater number of passen- 
gers on top than are shown inside. 

Timid apprehensions of danger were allayed by the official 
assurance upon the time-table that under no circumstances will 
the cars be run after dark. 

The time of the departure of the northern train depended 
upon the arrival of the Charleston mail and passenger boats, 
which ran daily to connect with the cars at Wilmington. This 
elastic schedule, affected by the tides and wind and weather, 
sometimes varied as much as an hour from day to day, and the 
Wilmington passengers for the Horth usually pursued their 
regular avocations until the warning bell of the approaching 
steamer was heard all along the wharf, when a hurried depart- 
ure was made for the train at the foot of Red Cross Street. . 

A prominent chemist of Wilmington told me that upon one 
occasion when he was delayed the train had reached Boney 
Bridge before the accommodating conductor saw his frantic 

Early Years 


signal to stop, but, true to the spirit of the times, the engineer 
immediately reversed the train and ran hack two blocks in order 
to take him on board. 

Upon the arrival at Wilmington of the train from the North, 
it was the custom of the general staff, on occasions, to meet the 
passengers with welcome speeches and with a gracious bow to 
present to every lady a bouquet of choice flowers. Conspicuous 
in this fine courtesy was the secretary and treasurer, Mr. James 
S. Green, who was sometimes so laden with floral offerings that 
his arms embraced quite a respectable flower garden. His affa- 
bility was proverbial, and I well remember as a youth the sweet 
and gentle salutations of his later years. Well might Jenny 
Lind, the distinguished recipient of his gracious courtesies, have 
said to him upon her arrival in Wilmington, as Oliver Wendell 
Holmes said to some one else, “If your garden is as full of roses 
as your heart is of kindliness, there is no room for the side- 
walks. ?? Such delicate attentions were a part of the hospitality 
of the Cape Fear people of the olden times. The cultivated 
citizens of Wilmington unconsciously exhibited towards all re- 
spectable strangers in the streets and in the hotels such marked 
deference in their salutations and welcome that the impressions 
of intelligent travelers on business or pleasure were most favor- 
able. Our esteemed octogenarian, Mr. Walker Meares, tells me 
that it was the custom of prominent citizens to make formal 
calls upon the strangers who came here in the forties, and to 
welcome them with stately dignity and courtly expressions to 
the thriving town of Wilmington. 

Development of the Railroad. 

When President Dudley retired from the presidency in 1847, 
he was succeeded by Gen. Alexander MacRae. 

In those early days there were numerous difficulties in opera- 
tion, but General MacRae proved himself to be a most capable 
and efficient manager. The Board of Directors was composed 
of some of the most competent business men of Wilmington — 
men unsurpassed for capability, energy, and integrity. They 
placed the bonds of the road in London on advantageous terms, 
and the construction was cheap and without unnecessary ex- 

In 1854 William S. Ashe became president. General condi- 
tions were now changing. The South was emerging from in- 

156 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

fantile weakness, and industries were developing and multi- 

On the completion of the North Carolina Railroad, Colonel 
Fisher and Mr. Ashe arranged for western products to come to 
Wilmington through Goldsboro, and a line of steamers was put 
on from Wilmington to New York, carrying North Carolina’s 
products to the markets of the world from a North Carolina 
port — the consummation of Mr. Ashe’s purpose when he drew 
the charter of the North Carolina Railroad. 

But passenger traffic was of equal importance to the road, and 
Mr. Ashe sought to build up a great through passenger business. 
He sought to eliminate as far as practicable all breaks at termi- 
nals, and to relieve travel of its inconvenience and tedium, and 
in conjunction with Senator David L. Yulee, the president of 
the Florida Railroad, he developed Florida travel until it 
reached large proportions and became a highly remunerative 

Recognized throughout the South as a dominant influence in 
railroad matters and a most successful manager, in 1861, at the 
request of President Davis, Mr. Ashe took supervision of all 
Confederate transportation east of the Mississippi River, but he 
still remained president of the Wilmington and Weldon Rail- 
road until his death, in September, 1862. 


From the beginning among the merchants of Wilmington 
were some men of enterprise, who owned their own ships, which 
were engaged in trade with Great Britain as well as with our 
Northern ports and the islands of the Caribbean Sea. 

Forest products at first furnished a considerable part of the 
exports, while the imports were such as a newly settled country 
needed. But as the population of the interior thickened and 
products became diversified, Wilmington became the center of 
a varied and extensive commerce and its importance as a com- 
mercial entrepot increased, while many of its merchants became 
men of importance who deserved to rank as eminent in the world 
of trade. The following quotations indicate the commercial im- 
portance of Wilmington between 1830 and 1840. 

The Boston Courier of July 23, 1830, says: “One hundred 
and fifty-one more vessels have entered the port of Wilmington 

Early Years 

15 7 

this year than last, including in the number 1 ship, 2 barks, 181 
brigs, the rest (410) schooners. These tar-and-shingle skippers, 
which carry large topsails, everywhere besprinkle our coast. 
Now Wilmington is the grand railroad and steamboat thorough- 
fare. She is taking the position that belongs to her and recall- 
ing the proud days of her prosperity before the American Revo- 

The Richmond Compiler says: “One hundred and fifty-one 
more vessels have entered the port of Wilmington this year than 
last. This shows great advance in trade. We have been sur- 
prised to hear that the tonnage of Wilmington exceeds that of 
Richmond, although the town has not one-fourth of our popula- 
tion. It must be a place of great enterprise, if we judge from 
what has been done within the last few years. We feel admira- 
tion for such a people and take pleasure in expressing it.” 

A memorial of the Internal Improvement Convention to the 
General Assembly of North Carolina at the session of 1838, 
embodying the following tables, shows what the foreign trade 
was at that time: 

“The tables annexed show the tonnage employed in the foreign 
trade, entered and cleared at Wilmington from October, 1836, 
to October, 1837 ; also the tonnage employed in the foreign 
trade of the ports of Norfolk, Petersburg, and Richmond for 
the same time, as taken from the report of the Secretary of the 

“From these tables it appears that in the year 1837 the ton- 
nage entered and cleared in the foreign trade from Wilmington 
exceeded that of Norfolk 6,384 tons, and exceeded both the ports 
of Richmond and Petersburg together 17,694 tons. We are 
informed on high authority that the coast trade of Wilmington 
employs a greater tonnage than her foreign trade. We have not 
the means of ascertaining its actual amount, as it is not reported. 
If this be true, and we believe it to be so, not only on the high 
authority from which we received it, but because we know the 
maritime trade of North Carolina is principally a coasting- 
trade, it would follow that the tonnage employed in the trade 
of the port of Wilmington is greater than the three great ports 
of Virginia — Norfolk, Richmond, and Petersburg.” 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Comparison of Foreign Trade of Wilmington with That 
of Norfolk, Petersburg, and Richmond in 1838. 


American vessels 12,378 

Foreign vessels 3,827 

16,205 Entered 16,205 

American vessels 25,600 

Foreign vessels 3,929 

29,529 Cleared 29,529 


Petersburg, American vessels 3,693 

Richmond, American vessels 2,822 

Foreign vessels. 1,197 

7,712 7,712 

Norfolk, American vessels 4,357 

Foreign vessels 10,000 

14,357 14,357 


Petersburg, American vessels 2,748 

Richmond, American vessels 13,240 

Foreign vessels 4,340 

20,328 20,328 

Norfolk, American vessels 12,771 

Foreign vessels 12,222 

24,993 24,993 

Early Years 



John MacLaurin, a prominent merchant and a Presby- 
terian elder, who died in the year 1907, was one of the most 
remarkable men of our community in his day and generation. 
Proud of his Scottish lineage, he possessed those sterling traits 
of heart and mind which likewise adorned the lives of many 
of his fellow-countrymen in the Cape Fear region — “absolute 
dependableness in all thinking and in all dealing, a lively sense 
of justice, a cultivated taste, critical judgment, with a splendid 
capacity for moral indignation.” He was an honor to his city 
and Commonwealth. 

He was a friend and admirer of Colonel Burr, who was 
some twelve years his senior, and he wrote for the local news- 
papers some charming reminiscences of Wilmington in the 
forties over the pen name “Senex, Jr.,” parts of which I have 
selected for more permanent record. 


After little observation, one will note in the topography of 
Wilmington that Fifth Street, running parallel to the Cape Fear 
River, is the backbone of a ridge upon which the city is built. 
The plateau which lies upon the summit of this ridge is variable 
in width, including oftentimes Fourth and even Third Streets 
on the one side and Sixth and Seventh Streets on the other, in 
somes cases with the level ground almost overhanging the river, 
as between Ann and Church Streets. We speak of the natural 
lay of the land as the topography — before the many changes that 
within the past fifty years have been made by grading and filling 
the streets. The average height of the ridge is fifty feet above 
tidewater, and the highest point, supposed to be at or near the 
intersection of Seventh and Red Cross Streets, perhaps ten feet 
higher. The descent towards the river is seamed by several 
branches, or runs, taking their rise sometimes as far back as 
Third Street and emptying into the river a few hundred yards 
apart. Within the limits of “Wilmington of the Olden Time” 
these were the streams rising between Third and Fourth Streets 
and emptying at the foot of Mulberry: Jacob’s Run, rising at 
Fourth Street near Princess and pursuing a southwest course 
until the river receives its waters at Dock Street ; and Tanyard 
Branch, rising at Third Street between Orange and Ann Streets 
and running nearly due west, emptying into the Cape Fear 
River at a point between the same streets. Boiling Springs 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Branch does not come strictly within our limits, but so near by 
that it is given its place here. Rising about Fifth Street and 
Wooster, it runs west with an inclination slightly south and 
empties near the foot of Dawson Street. 

The river front as we see it now gives little idea of the water 
line even fifty years ago. The business of that time was done 
between Orange and Mulberry Streets, most largely perhaps 
north of Dock. After the building of the Wilmington and Wel- 
don Railroad, the trend of business was constantly toward the 
depot. The wharves south of Orange Street were used for the 
storage of staves, river lumber, and tar. The distillation of tur- 
pentine was then in its infancy and a slight factor in business 
operations. Above Mulberry Street the water of the river came 
up to Nutt Street in all places where the land had been made, as 
it was called, by filling in the water lots with ballast or sand. 
When steamers were first placed in line between Wilmington 
and Charleston, a bridgeway was constructed to reach the boats 
and transfer passengers and baggage from the railroad landing 
place. Above Campbell Street on the river front, fifty years ago, 
were woods, or rather swamp. Above Bladen, a sheer bluff rose 
from the foot of the swamp, and just beyond Harnett Street on 
the summit of the bluff stood “Paradise,” then owned by Mr. 
Robert H. Cowan. The locality in general was less euphoniously 
styled “Hogg’s Folly” — precisely why no one seems to know, 
but certainly because some one of the name had begun an enter- 
prise of some kind or other which proved an impracticability on 
his hands. 

Before entering upon any report of people and places it may 
be well to note how the natural features have been changed 
within the past half century. We will follow the courses of 
some of the streams we have referred to, confining ourselves to 
the limits embraced in the original plan of the town ; viz. : Be- 
tween the Cape Fear River and Fifth Street, long known as 
“Old Boundary,” and between Campbell Street and what was 
afterwards known as Wooster. Sometime, doubtless near the 
completion of the Wilmington and Raleigh (now Wilmington 
and Weldon) Railroad, it became desirable to level Front Street 
across Mulberry. This seems to have been done without the 
precaution of making a drain to carry off the water, which was 
thus backed up Mulberry Street and formed a pond extending 
as far as Second Street, and which must have been several feet 
deep. This body of water was known as the “Horse Pond,” and 

Early Years 


remained a source of discomfort and a menace to health until 
sometime in the forties. It was quite deep and fish were some- 
times caught from its waters. 

Nowhere have changes been more or greater than on the line 
of Jacob’s Run. Fifty years ago the lots between Third and 
Fourth Streets, now occupied by the courthouse and the jail of 
the county, were a quagmire. Princess Street, between the streets 
named, was a slope from the point now occupied by the City 
Hall (the top of the hill was then several feet higher than now) 
down to the stream below. Third Street, at and near Princess, 
is several feet higher than it was in 1840, and the same is to be 
said of Second Street at the intersection of Market. At this 
point the mud in times long since past was so prevalent that the 
locality, being then occupied by a market house and town hall, 
was known as “Mud Market.” Improvement of a like charac- 
ter was made, at an earlier date probably, at or near the inter- 
section of Dock and Front Streets. There is a tradition that 
small canoes or batteaux came up Jacob’s Run from the river 
at high tide to Mud Market. This occurred before the memory 
of any one now living, hut it is founded on the testimony of per- 
fectly truthful gentlemen. As late as 1840 the sidewalk on the 
south side of Market, near Second, was some feet higher than 
the street itself, and several steps were the means of ascent or 
descent. Willow Spring Branch was overlooked in what has 
gone before. It took its rise above Second Street, near the line 
of Third, and thence to the river. The lots on the west side of 
Second Street, between Dock and Orange Streets, show how 
much the land just here was raised on the line of Second Street. 
Where the dwelling on the east side of Second Street, Judge 
Russell’s residence, and the dwelling on McLean’s Alley now 
stand was a depression, and the street has been raised some eight 
or ten feet at least. Apparently to protect the Willow Spring 
from the caving-in of earth, a wall of cypress logs was run on 
the line of the street and on the alley. From near the middle of 
Third Street between Orange and Ann, at a point some fifteen 
or twenty feet from the eastern line, the hill sloped abruptly 
until about the western line it was arrested by a brick wall. 
This depression made Third Street impassable in this immedi- 
ate locality except on the margin indicated. The wall referred 
to protected a spring at its foot, and thence the stream flowed on 
to form a tanyard near Second Street, established in 1826 by 
Isaac Northrop and John M. VanCleff and afterwards owned 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

by Mr. Northrop and John T. Hewitt. Second Street was then 
much lower than now. But nowhere within the city limits have 
there been such changes as on the line of Front Street, between 
Orange and Ann. Third Street at this point was then as low as 
the coal yard of W. G. Fowler, at its eastern limit, now is. From 
this point rose a steep hill, upon the summit of which stood the 
Baptist Church. The dwelling into which the church was trans- 
formed marks the elevation. In those days, of course, Front 
Street could only be traveled in wheeled conveyances with diffi- 
culty, and to reach Front Street from the river by the line of 
Ann or Nun Streets was impracticable. 

Before entering upon the main subject, however, it may be 
well to discuss in a general way the prevalent customs or habits 
of the people of a half century or more ago, and their modes of 
business, and to note any other matters concerning the times that 
may be interesting or instructive. There were very few resi- 
dences east of Fifth Street (at that time in the eastern bound- 
ary). The present residence of the bishop of East Carolina was 
then owned and occupied by Mr. James S. Green, and was the 
only house on the entire block on which it was situated. A few 
houses were on the eastern side of Fifth Street, but none farther 
out, so that in this part of town all east of Sixth Street may be j 

said to have been in the woods. On Market Street there was 
little, if any, extension of habitation. In fact, between Seventh 
and Eighth, near Market, was the public hanging ground, and 
chinquapin hill, where that fruit could be gathered in season, 
then comprehending in general the ground anywhere on or about 
Market and Eighth Streets. Around the northern and especially 
the southern boundary, settlement was sparser still. Dry Pond, 
bounteously full of water in the wet season and guiltless of a 
semblance of moisture in the dry, then sat placidly on the snow- 
white sand amid the scrubby oaks and prickly pears and wire 
grass without a habitation about it. 

In 1840 the population of Wilmington was 4,268, and the 
limits were circumscribed as we have heretofore stated them. 

At the time of which we are now writing not even gas lighting 
had been dreamed of. Kerosene was then, and even for twenty 
years after, totally unknown. Camphine, a refined preparation 
of spirits turpentine, was a recent and most decided improve- 
ment on the lamp oil or tallow-dipped candles. This article, 
camphine, came into almost universal use, having very high illu- 
minative power, though exceedingly inflammable, and so ex- 

Early Years 


tremely dangerous. Its cheapness was a great recommendation, 
and its only rival, if it was a rival, for illuminating purposes, 
was sperm candles, which were beyond the reach of those in mod- 
erate circumstances. Somewhat later on adamantine candles, 
because of good lighting power with little accompanying hazard, 
in a great measure displaced camphine. The candle then be- 
came the most universal house and office illuminator, and the 
candlesticks and snuffers were indispensable household articles. 
The streets were lighted with big lamps filled with whale oil and 
placed at the intersection of the streets. The lighting, as may 
be readily conceived, served to do little more than make the 
darkness visible. 

Matches were not known a hundred years ago. In fact, the 
first properly called friction matches were invented in England 
in 1827, and greatly improved in 1838, but still they were 
neither quick nor sure, easily lighted nor safe ; not safe because 
of being tipped with phosphorus, a substance fatally poisonous 
to many of those engaged in the manufacture, and even to some 
who used the matches. In 1855 were invented the safety 
matches, which have since been evolved into those in use at 
present. Before the days of matches, flint and steel had to be 
resorted to for the making of fire, and because of the cost of 
matches these primitive and uncertain means were the only 
resources of the poor for many years after matches were intro- 
duced. For the reason just given it was of the utmost impor- 
tance to keep up fire day in and day out, and in many families 
it was true that for years upon years fire in the house was never 
suffered to go out. A common thing it was in summertime to 
place a paper bearing the merest glimmer of light afloat in a cup 
of oil at bedtime and so keep up the fire until morning. 

Fuel comes naturally to be considered now. It was generally 
simply the forest growth, or the refuse of sawmill operations. 
Coal was not unknown, of course, in 1840, or its value as fuel 
underrated, hut until the days of railroad communication the 
cost of the carriage of coal, even to get it to navigable water, 
made it generally unavailable as fuel. 

Allusion has been made to the street lighting. Hardly had 
“Old Matt” set his feeble lamps alight, when the sound of night 
watchmen, very few and wide apart, were to be heard crying the 
hours of night. “Ten o’clock and all’s well !” was a cry that will 
be recalled by some who may read these lines. But this served 
too well to announce the whereabouts of the watch to nightly 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

depredators and was discontinued on that account. Besides 
these watchmen, occasionally, when diabolism was specially 
prevalent, and always on Saturday night, perhaps, citizen patrol- 
men walked the streets until a late hour, sometimes during the 
entire night. The town hell rang at nine o’clock p. m. as a 
signal when the negroes were to be out of the street, unless by 
special and definite permission of their owners. The same hell 
regulated the hours for breakfast and dinner, and one hour after 
the call to these in each case, the “turn out hell” gave the call 
from refreshment to labor. 

Every doctor compounded his own prescriptions in those days, 
and physicians’ offices were simply drug stores, minus the patent 
medicines and perfumery and fancy articles which druggists 
keep in stock. The doctor usually charged for his service to a 
family a round sum by the year, and made his visits on horse- 
back, with his saddlebags containing medicine and invariable 
accompaniments; and his lancet, let us not forget, for phlebot- 
omy was the universal practice. Senex, Jr. 



An esteemed friend, fully and accurately informed, suggests | 
correction of the writer’s surmise that the “Horse Pond,” corner 
of Eront and Mulberry Streets, was artificially formed, as was j 
suggested in the former article, and says that it existed previous 
to 1812 ; and further that hoys of seventy or eighty years ago 
were wont to swim in its waters. 

A buggy was hardly known a few decades ago. The rich trav- 
eled in closed carriages, very much lighter, but in appearance 
very similar to stages. They were costly, and those in moderate 
circumstances contented themselves with horseback riding. This 
was the mode of travel generally for both sexes on journeys or 
in church attendance, hut two-wheeled vehicles, drawn by one 
horse, were sometimes called into requisition; the gig for two 
persons and the sulky for one. 

How changed school discipline and training of the schools 
within the past sixty years or so ! Even good old “Miss” (Mrs.) 
“Coxetter” used the birchen rod, and Miss Maggie McLeod, who ; 
lingered with us almost until now, and Miss Laura Rankin knew 
well its virtue and spared not to apply. In the Old Aeademy 
days, before our time, the older citizens hesitated not to tell, j 

Early Years 


almost with clenched teeth, how “Old Mitchell” wielded the rod 
in a way that would not have disgraced a Comanche. But Jesse 
Mulock was bad enough. “Old Mulock” — for to schoolboys 
teachers are all old — was a man of powerful grip, and when he 
kept over the Hewlett bar, on Front Street, where Craft’s furni- 
ture store now stands, or later in the room over French’s shoe 
store, where Sol. Bear’s store is now located — in either place he 
had a room above that in which the idea was taught to shoot, a 
room to which unruly youth were transported to undergo the 
horrors of the hickory. We hear little now of chinquapin or 
birch or hickory. “The fair, delightful plans of peace” prevail 
in the schoolrooms of today and do perhaps as well. But this 
must be allowed: if the youths of olden time learned less they 
learned it thoroughly. They lost in extent and variety, hut did 
they not gain in solidity? In 1840 one went to school eleven 
months of the year, barring Saturday and Fourth of July and 
Christmas, perhaps, and with Mr. Mulock even Saturday was 
liable to be appropriated to map-inspection, or a lecture on 
astronomy — a sort of dessert to the intellectual feasts of the 
other five days. 

Daguerre discovered the art of retaining impressions upon 
chemically prepared plates in 1839, and of course daguerreo- 
typing was not practically known in Wilmington in 1840. On 
the mantelpieces of almost every home were silhouettes ; that is, 
profiles cut out of paper or cardboard with more or less neatness 
and laid on a black surface. These silhouettes were usually 
very accurate likenesses, so far as a side view could be such. The 
portraits painted for those who could afford them were some- 
times far otherwise. In the early days of the forties traveling 
on land was mostly by private conveyance. The four-horse stage- 
coach carried mails and passengers on special routes where not 
superseded by the few railroads then in existence. The stage 
carried one from place to place at a cost of, say 10 cents a mile, 
at the rate of six miles an hour, without extra charge for the 
bumpings and thumpings experienced. In 1845 one might go 
from Wilmington to Hew York in seventy hours, stopping at 
each railroad terminus to change cars and recheck (or remark) 
baggage. Postages previous to 1845 were 12% cents for a single 
sheet of paper and 25 cents for a double sheet. All papers were 
folded and sealed with wafers or sealing wax. Postpaid en- 
velopes were in use in Paris in the seventeenth century and the 
Sardinian States used them in 1818. Stamps were introduced 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

into the United States in 1840; the government did not adopt 
their use, however, until 1847, although tentatively they were 
used in New York in 1845, and an adhesive stamp was used in 
St. Louis in the same year. It will readily he understood that 
few letters were written when 25 cents was the rate of postage, 
and that, as payment was required on receipt of the letter, the 
published list of uncalled-for letters was of extraordinary length. 
What were known as ship letters sometimes came by vessels into 
the port of Wilmington. They were required to he deposited in 
the post office, the conveyancer receiving part of the postage. 

The mails early in this century were conveyed from place to 
place in express transmission, or on more important routes by 
post boys, with relays of horses at short distances. The stage- 
coach, perhaps at the same time, certainly a little later and until 
the advent of railroads, was used as the mail conveyancer. The 
route south from Wilmington was across the ferry at foot of 
Market Street and the causeway, via Georgetown, S. C., and 
Charleston. East, the route then and now — hut not so well 
now — was and is known as the New Bern Road. North, the 
way seems to have been over Little Bridge, via Waynesboro 
(now Goldsboro), and so on. The blowing of the horn announc- 
ing the coming stage was a source of infinite delight to the small 
hoys of the period, black and white alike. 

The change in the character of business transactions in Wil- 
mington between 1830 and 1850, though not nearly so great as 
that between 1870 and 1890, is nevertheless worthy of note. 
The exports in the early thirties were mainly, almost exclu- 
sively, lumber, shingles, and staves to the West Indies, and rice, 
naval stores, and cotton to the North ; the importations, princi- 
pally sugar, molasses, and rum, especially rum. One looking 
over the advertisements of those days can hardly fail to he 
struck with the amount of Jamaica rum and New England rum 
offered for sale. The Washingtonian temperance movement in 
the late twenties and throughout the thirties had undoubtedly a 
great effect in changing the habits of the people and so in dimin- 
ishing the demand for liquors. In course of time the channel 
of West Indian trade became in a great measure diverted from 
Wilmington. The trade in the forties was not what it had been 
in the decade previous. 

The means and manner of conducting business in 1840 were 
essentially different from what they became a decade or two 
later. In every countinghouse of any pretensions there was a 

Early Years 


tall desk with slopes on all four sides and a plane surface on top 
to hold the necessary implements or articles for the transaction 
of business. Every desk had one or more boxes of wafers and a 
stamp for ordinary letter sealing, and sealing wax with the 
candle hard by for extraordinary cases. The pen used was 
usually the quill, for though the steel pen had been invented 
some time before, it had not come into general use ; in fact, in 
1840 was quite a rarity. Joseph Gillette patented his improve- 
ment in 1831, hut it was slow work to supersede the goosequills 
which every school-teacher had to mend for his pupils, generally, 
and every hoy had in time to learn to make and mend for him- 
self. The box of sand to dry the manuscript — a most annoying 
device it was — took the place of blotting paper, which then had 
not come into use. Safes there were, of course, pretentiously 
dubbed “patent asbestos’’ and “salazuander,” hut they were in- 
finitely inferior to the chilled-iron fireproof safes now in use. 

A word or two now as to the way traffic, that is the ordi- 
nary buying and selling of merchandise, was conducted previous 
to 1840, and indeed through the forties and perhaps later. It 
must be recollected that most men of means owned slaves ; espe- 
cially did farmers and planters own many of them. Then, as 
now, planters had regular accounts with the dealers — dealers 
rather than factors — and these dealers furnished the planters 
with every article, large or small, that they needed. On the 
first of January of each year the account of the planter was 
made up and presented. He paid it if he chose or such part as 
he chose, and a note hearing interest at 6 per cent was given for 
the balance. The next year the same process was gone through. 
At intervals the entire debt was liquidated, if the debtor chose, 
or if the creditor compelled. In general, however, dealers of 
means kept their notes as an investment. Occasionally a note 
was transferred in the purchase of property, or the notes were 
“shaved” to enable a holder to raise cash under stress, hut in 
many cases new notes with interest added (and thus com- 
pounded) were taken from time to time, usually every year, 
and no settlement was made. The death of the maker of the 
obligation, however, made a settlement imperative. When he 
who owed was found to he getting “shaky,” the note was put 
in suit in order to collect, and some property had to he sold, a 
negro or two, not improbably, to satisfy the judgment. 

The planter upon whose estate debt was thus accumulating 
was providing against the evil day by using his money to buy 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

negroes or add a few acres here or there to his landed posses- 
sions, the natural increase of negroes being of itself a very con- 
siderable means of acquiring wealth. The course that was pur- 
sued between merchant and planter was based on property, very 
much the same as that between the merchant and all persons of 
fair credit, who preferred to give their notes to paying their 
debts in cash. Annual arrangements were the rule. The banks 
discounted good paper to run ninety days ; at the end of the time 
they required interest paid and then renewed the paper, and so 
on indefinitely. They were happy in thus running credits to 
planters for years and compounding the interest every ninety 
days. Of course they paid out their own notes (promises to 
pay), and, as in fact a very large part of these notes never came 
hack for redemption, they made a prosperous business. 

Senex, Jr. 



Why may we not before getting into matters of more conse- 
quence refer to the “moms multicaulis craze” ? The multicaulis 
is a variety of the white mulberry, and its leaves were, in days 
that are gone, presumably are now, especially esteemed as food 1 
for the silkworm. The enthusiasm of its culture did not raise 
the hopes nor its collapse produce the dire consequences of the 
“tulip craze,” the “South Sea Bubble,” and others that have 
come down to us through the corridors of time, and in the early 
days of 1840 it had nearly run its rather brief course. At that 
time the numerous advertisements offering and belauding it had 
about ceased to appear, and those who were to realize fortunes | 
from the manufacture of silk had well-nigh ceased to mourn j 
over their departed hopes. Still, the moms multicaulis was to 
be found, probably, in some of the lots around town, and it had 
hardly disappeared from the upland field connected with the 
rice farm of Mr. James S. Green, near Kidder’s mill, in which 
a few acres had been devoted to its cultivation. I 

One of the most important of our industries is truck farming. 

Many persons engage in it of course solely with a view to dispos- 
ing of their product in this city, hut others raise vegetables and 
small fruits almost exclusively, if not entirely, for early ship- 
ment to Northern markets. Among the latter are Chinese truck- 
men, who raise vegetables hardly considered edible with us, and 
ship them directly to factors of their own race, doubtless in 

Early Years 


Philadelphia or New York. But in or about 1840 it was not so. 
Very many persons had around their residences sufficient 
ground for patches of vegetables, green peas, cucumbers, roast- 
ing-ears, and the like, and so many a town lot was really a half- 
acre farm. In the nature of things, as the town grew, or rather 
as the town had grown, fresh vegetables became a felt want. 
When the time and the necessity came into conjunction Mr. 
John Barnes appeared on the scene. At the old London corner, 
where Solomon now has his store, in market hours Mr. Barnes 
could always be found with vegetables in their season, always 
the best, too, of their kind. His farm was located quite beyond 
the limits, even beyond “Dry Pond,” though it would be reck- 
oned in that precinct. It comprised what now is the square 
bounded by Queen and Seventh and Wooster and Eighth Streets, 
about five acres. On this little plot of bald sand-hill land, by 
indefatigable industry and practical skill, Mr. Barnes managed 
to support himself and family, not forgetting to give them at 
least a good solid English education. Here were raised the first 
cabbages ever produced on soil hereabout. In fact, until Mr. 
Barnes introduced them it was not supposed that they could be 
headed around here. And watermelons — there is no adjective 
available to describe them. They were always to be expected on 
the Fourth of July, and Barnes’s watermelons and the Gladiator 
or the Wilmington or whatever line boat went on the annual 
excursion were part and parcel of the celebration of the day. 
At the time of which we write Mr. Martindale raised water- 
melons also and furnished buttermilk, and it was a time of de- 
light to the average boy on a hot summer day when the old 
white-covered cart, drawn by the clay-bank mare, the whole 
directed by old Aunt Sally Martindale, would be seen coming 
around old Jack Green’s corner townward. Mr. Barnes died of 
yellow fever on November 14, 1862, aged sixty. To meet in- 
creasing demand, the truck gardening in and around Wilming- 
ton was developed, of course. Dr. James E. McKee, having 
retired from practice, found at Hilton both pleasure and profit 
in this kind of farming. F. B. Agnostini afterwards went into 
it on the Little Bridge Road near San Souci Plantation. Mr. 
Christopher A. Dudley engaged in it at Summerville, below 
Greenfield, and John Gafford a mile or two beyond Jump-and- 
Kun Branch. And we must not forget old Dr. J. Tognio, who 
leased a part of Love Grove Plantation, on Smith’s Creek, a 
Frenchman of some attainments, we believe, in a literary way, 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

but hardly a success in truck farming. When or whither he 
retired is not known to us. 

“Say something about schools/’ says a friend, and we are 
disposed to comply. What follows must be largely reminiscent. 
We would like to speak of some schools, Miss Maggie McLeod’s, 
for instance, but could say nothing of personal knowledge. This 
much is known, however, that this good old lady, who, well on 
in the eighties of her life, left us only a year or two since for 
her heavenly home, laid the educational foundation deep and 
strong for many of the best citizens of today. The same ought 
to be said of the teaching of Miss Laura Rankin, now Mrs. 
Rothwell, whose temperance societies and strict moral training 
otherwise implanted principles which will tell throughout eter- 
nity. Rev. A. P. Repiton, Rev. Mr. Shepherd, and Rev. W. W. 
Eells taught schools that were well patronized, but for the reason 
given above we can do no more than note them. 

The forties were the birchen time in schooling. Methods 
were drastic — if that is the word. They had moderated from 
the days of Mitchell in the Old Academy, for then the methods 
might, without a strain upon language, be called sanguinary. 
But there were exceptions. Good old Mrs. Easter Coxetter — 
did she whip ? Well, we do not recall it, but the goggles made 
out of the “Jack of hearts” — was it? (we are not up on that 
nomenclature), we do remember, and a friend whose recollec- 
tion is vivid says the three-legged stool and the dunce’s cap were 
used. That was not all, however. The dear old lady had us on 
Eriday evening to recite the Apostles’ Creed, and maybe the 
Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer. And here we took 
our first lessons in the Episcopal catechism — and our last. Yes, 
she was a dear old lady, a dear old saint, now over half a cen- 
tury in heaven. In a former article Mr. Jesse Mulock was 
referred to, and we only note here that Wilmington has had few, 
if any, better teachers than he. 

Cape Fear Lodge, Ho. 2, I. O. O. E., was organized on the 
13th of January, 1842 — the place, a room over the grain store 
of B. E. Mitchell & Son. The charter members were Gen. Alex- 
ander MacRae, W. S. G. Andrews, Willie A. Walker, and 
Valentine Hodgson from Weldon Lodge, Ho. 1. Thomas H. 
Howey and Levi A. Hart were initiated the same night. The 
lodge soon moved its quarters to an upper room of a building on 
the corner of the alley next south of the Purcell House. This is 
only preliminary to saying that in 1842 a committee consisting 

Early Years 


of Col. John MacRae, Rev. B. L. Hoskins, and Owen Fennell, 
Esq., was appointed to report on the propriety of establishing a 
school. On June 10, 1843, we quote from the Wilmington 
Chronicle , “Trustees of Wilmington Academy resolved to lease 
the eastern end of their property to Cape Fear Lodge, Ho. 2, 
I. O. 0. F., for twenty-live years for the erection of a school- 
house, at an annual rental of a peppercorn.” 

The Odd Fellows’ School was established, and a benevolent 
work was thus done for Wilmington which ought to be remem- 
bered with profoundest gratitude by all who were recipients of 
the benefits conferred by the institution. With all books and 
stationery furnished, the tuition fee was only $3 a quarter — and 
it was a quarter, or well-nigh so — for a scholastic year was then 
eleven months. The school was opened in October, 1843, with 
Mr. Robert McLauchlin, of Baltimore, principal. Mrs. McLauch- 
lin had charge of the female department. Mr. McLauchlin 
was tall, strongly built, and well proportioned, without a pound 
of superfluous flesh. His hair, which was exceeding scant, 
was of a reddish color, and his heard the same. The boys re- 
garded him as a veritable Samson. He did not use, too well 
we remember — he did not use the ruler as the instrument of 
correction. You know there was a firm belief prevalent that a 
ruler could he broken by crossing eyelashes in your hand and 
moistening them with spittle. Somehow or other the process 
always failed, hut that was because the lashes did not lie right, 
of course. But Mr. McLauchlin would jerk a hoy up on tiptoe 
with his left hand and thrash him with his right. By way of 
variation he sometimes threw out his cork leg, drew a boy over 
it, and then — hut it is not necessary to he precise on what is 
really very much a matter of feeling. Some readers know just 
how it was. The writer does. 

But there came a day, Monday, the 21st of April, 1845, when 
we had gathered at school and were dismissed because our 
teacher was too indisposed to he present. We made the welkin 
ring with shouts of delight that we were to have a holiday. A 
few of us went with Henry and Robert and Billy, the MacRae 
hoys, into the woods to enjoy our Indian play, or whatever it 
might he, and in a few hours returned to learn that Mr. 
McLauchlin was dead. We mourned for him, because we loved 
him. He was strict and maybe severe, hut never unjust and 
never cruel, and we loved him with a love both strong and true. 
He was buried on the lot, northwest corner of Fourth and Hock 

172 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Streets, and the Odd Fellows erected a marble shaft to his mem- 
ory. His remains and the stone that marked their resting place 
were afterwards removed to Oakdale Cemetery. 

Mr. Levin Meginney 1 succeeded Mr. McLauchlin in charge 
of the school, with Mrs. Richardson at the head of the girls’ de- 
partment. Mr. Meginney continued in charge until the school 
was given up by the Odd Fellows, long after 1850, and then, 
buying the property he converted the school building in part 
into a dwelling, which he occupied with his family. The school- 
house still stands, and the school is continued under the charge 
of Prof. Washington Catlett. 

In 1846 a classical department was added to the school, in 
charge of Mr. Robert Lindsay, a Scotchman and graduate of St. 
Andrew’s University, Scotland. He was a thorough classical 
scholar, and if proficiency of his pupils is a test — and who will 
deny it ? — a good teacher, but as a disciplinarian he was a sad 
failure. He had not found his place in school teaching, and 
about 1850, having tried it here and elsewhere until that time, 
he removed farther South. There he studied law and went 
into politics and became governor of Alabama. While in the 
Alabama Legislature, in connection with the Internal Improve- 
ment Board, of which he was chairman, we think, he was largely 
instrumental in building the Mobile and Ohio Railroad, and 
as governor he raised the bonds of Alabama above those of any 
other Southern State at the time. 

We now close with naming the first class of the Odd Fellows’ 
School, about the time of Mr. McLauchlin’ s death: Henry 

MacRae, Robert B. MacRae, Robert C. Green, Irving C. Bal- 
lard, John D. Taylor, Owen Fennell, Sidney G. Law, Joseph 
H. Flanner, William H. Hall, John J. Poisson, Washington C. 
Fergus, and John McLaurin. Irving Ballard and Henry Mac- 
Rae afterwards taught in the school. 

In the classical department under Mr. Lindsay were Sidney 
G. Law, Robert B. MacRae, Owen Fennell, Nicholas W. 
Schenck, Hardy L. Fennell, Washington Fergus, Alvis Walker, 
William H. Bettencourt, John L. Hill, Robert C. Green, Henry 
M. Drane, James A. Wright, Daniel Newton, John William 
Kelly, Arthur J. Hill, and John McLaurin. 

The good work done by the school has been referred to. It 
was in its aim and purpose and in its results very like to that 

iMr. Meginney’s school is mentioned at greater length elsewhere in 
the Chronicles. 

Early Years 


done by Mrs. Hemenway, under the management, direction, 
and control of Miss Amy M. Bradley, something like a quarter 
of a century afterwards. Wilmington ought never to cease to 
hold both the one and the other everlastingly in grateful remem- 
brance. Senex, Jr. 


Before proceeding to weightier matters let us gather up the 
loose-lying threads of memorial thought. Our friend aforesaid 
reminds us, on the subject of trucking, that the vegetables 
brought into table supply in 1840 were very limited. Lettuce 
was brought from Charleston, cabbages, as has been said, were 
not raised around here, and tomatoes were “love apples,” pretty 
to look upon but not regarded as edible. Strawberries, now to 
be had in the height of the season at five cents per quart, were 
then 25 cents a saucer, and there were few in a saucer — cream, 
however, was thrown in. Hopkins, a little more than two miles 
east of the city and a stone’s throw north of the Hew Bern Hoad, 
was the resort of courting couples for strawberries and cream, 
which suggests that courting was expensive in those days, at 
least to the financial partner of the concern. 

And on the subject of the militia : how wondrously they were 
equipped — with long guns and short guns and rifles and shot- 
guns and muskets — all flint and steel, for though percussion 
caps were invented as far back as 1818, and had become pretty 
well known by 1830 — Colt using them on his repeating pistols 
invented in 1836 — yet the United States Government did not 
use them before about 1842, and although the army might 
easily have been furnished with percussion muskets in the 
Mexican War, 1846, General Scott preferred the flint-lock gun, 
“considering it dangerous to campaign in an enemy’s country 
with an untried weapon.” 

Oh, how those flint and steel locks did try the temper and the 
patience of the average youth of the days of 1840. See the lark, 
well away to be sure, but mounted on a hillock, and his bright 
yellow breast exposed invitingly ! Snap goes the flint upon the 
steel; he winks his eye and whisks his tail and soars away. 
That chance is gone, for the day perhaps. And how tantalizing 
it must have been in war, in the very heat of the battle, to have 
the flint fail to strike fire or the powder to flash in the pan. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

This accounts for the constant use of bayonets and throws the 
needed light upon pictures of the olden time where the musket 
is so often seen used as a club. 

What became of the court when the courthouse was burned 
in 1840 ? Well, for a while the sessions of court were held in 
Society Hall, as it was called, a building in the rear of St. 
James’s Church, but quite promptly the county magistrates had 
the courthouse building erected on Princess Street, the same 
building which only about a year or so ago was vacated that the 
present elegant and commodious quarters might be occupied. 
The jail of 1840 was the building still standing on the north- 
east corner of Second and Princess Streets, and now used as a 
wagon-making shop. 

Judges were elected by the Legislature in 1840 and for over 
twenty years thereafter. The office was held for life or during 
good behavior unless sooner voluntarily vacated by the occupant. 
Commissioners of navigation were appointed by the commis- 
sioners of the town of Wilmington. Later in the forties they 
were elected by the citizens of Wilmington and so continued to 
be for a score or so of years. 

The commissioners of the town in 1840 had been elected in 
1839. They were named in a previous article. They held 
office for two years. So did those elected in 1841, viz. : James 
P. McPee, magistrate of police; Armand J. DeRosset, jr v 
Thomas W. Brown, Charles D. Ellis, aud John MacRae. In 
the Legislature of 1842-1843 a bill was passed “For the better 
regulation of the town of Wilmington,” which provided for an- 
nual elections of commissioners and increased the number to be 
elected to seven. Why this should be decidedly objectionable 
does not appear, but it was. The publication of intention for 
thirty days, required in such cases, was made in a Raleigh 
paper, and it was announced when the bill became a law that 
not more than a dozen citizens of Wilmington knew what was 
doing, which, compared with some things since, confirms Solo- 
mon’s statement that “there is no new thing under the sun.” A 
digression may be pardoned here. The same Legislature passed 
an act establishing common schools in Horth Carolina and ap- 
portioning two districts (of 35 in the county) to Wilmington. 
The commissioners selected in January, 1843, under the new 
law, were John MacRae, C. D. Ellis, T. W. Brown, Alexander 
Anderson, Thomas J. Armstrong, William A. Wright, and 
Oscar G. Parsley. 

Early Years 


State elections in 1840 were held on different days in the 
various counties. The first was held on July 23 and the last 
on August 13 ( Wilmington Chronicle , May 13, 1840). Hyde, 
Pitt, Washington, Wayne, and others had voted July 30, 1840 
— this was noted in the Chronicle of August 5, 1840. On Au- 
gust 12 the paper contained the election news from these coun- 
ties, or some of them. Hew Hanover voted on August 13 and 
the result was given in the Chronicle of August 19, 1840. 
Elections for State officers and members of Congress from that 
time to the present have been held on the same day throughout 
the State, formerly on the first Thursday in August, latterly 
contemporaneously with the presidential election when occur- 
ring in the same year. 

John M. Morehead was elected governor in 1840 over Rom- 
ulus M. Saunders by some 5,000 votes, perhaps more, but the 
Legislature was Democratic in both branches. 

But 1840 was a grand presidential year. The Whig party, 
from a mere coterie having its origin in a Hew York City char- 
ter election in 1834, had in six years grown to immense propor- 
tions. It had all the enthusiasm of phenomenal growth. The 
Democratic party — the party of Andrew Jackson and Martin 
Van Buren — had dominated for twelve years past, and had all 
the power and prestige pertaining to that fact. Hot a great 
while before this at a Tammany meeting in Hew York City two 
factions, whom it will suit to call “Regulars” and “Reformers,” 
were in high dispute. The “Reformers,” finding themselves 
losing ground, turned off the gas, but the “Regulars,” prepared 
for the occasion, instantly whipped out a hundred candles from 
as many pockets and with the scratch of as many “Loco Eoco” 
matches the hall was again alight and the business proceeded. 
There were no matches other than “Loco Eoco” in those days, 
and this incident, with little good reason seemingly, gave a name 
of derision to the Jacksonian or regular Democratic party. 

William Henry Harrison and John Tyler were the Whig 
nominees for the Presidency. Martin Van Buren, then occupy- 
ing the presidential chair, and Richard M. Johnson were the 
nominees of the Democratic party. Van Buren was a man of 
wealth ; Harrison, if not poor was at least not wealthy, and had 
lived in his early days — his friends did not let the people forget 
it — in a log cabin. It is said that a Democratic editor, if not 
building better than he knew, at least building otherwise than 
he intended, said : “Give Harrison a log cabin and a barrel of 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

hard cider and he will not leave Ohio.” The Whig party caught 
it up and used it for all it was worth, and it was worth hundreds 
of thousands of votes. Log cabins sprang up everywhere as the 
meeting places for Tippecanoe and Tyler clubs, with the hard 
cider always on tap. The first name referred, of course, to the 
war record of General Harrison, and “Tippecanoe and Tyler, 
too” — “Tip and Ty,” for short — was the slogan of the party. 
It was all very taking. The hoys even enjoyed it hugely and 
the ladies wore the brass medal with the log cabin and the cider 
barrel represented upon it. The writer was a future voter at 
the time, and on the off-road prospectively. He became pos- 
sessed of a Harrison medal, and it must he confessed was quite 
proud of it. A horror-stricken relative soon bought him out, 
however, and he never afterwards deflected from his ancestral 
principles. But this is too personal, perhaps. 

One incident arises very vividly to mind and calls for notice. 
A ship full-rigged and beautiful to look upon was built at the 
shipyard (now that of Capt. S. W. Skinner), to he taken to 
Baleigh to the grand Whig convention rally of the party in 
Horth Carolina on October 5. Constitution was the name of 
the ship. James Cassiday was on deck as captain, and the 
crew were Don MacBae, John Hedrick, John Marshall, Eli 
Hall, John Walker, and Mike Cronly — then youths of fifteen 
to eighteen years. The last named is the only survivor. 

A large delegation of citizens went up from Wilmington to 
the convention. Dr. John Hill, from the residence of General 
J ames Owen, then standing where now stands the Carolina Cen- 
tral Railroad office,, addressed the crew of the ship and the 
enthusiastic throng assembled there, and the boat then pro- 
ceeded on her trip. By rail she was taken to Goldsboro and 
thence by wagon, for lack of rail, to Baleigh. The ship was 
left in Baleigh to he given to the county represented in the con- 
vention which in the presidential election should give the larg- 
est increase in the Whig vote over the Governor’s poll, in pro- 
portion to population. Surry County got the ship. 

Another incident: The Log Cabin in Wilmington stood just 
where George Honnet’s jewelry store now is. The fire of Janu- 
ary previous had destroyed the buildings then standing there 
and they had not been rebuilt. Many an enthusiastic meeting 
had been held in the cabin and many thrilling speeches deliv- 
ered ; many rousing songs had been sung, or shouted, and many 
a barrel of cider doubtless had been drunk before the eventful 

Early Years 


night of November 5, 1840. On that night, or rather early next 
morning, the town was aroused by an explosion. The Log Cabin 
had been blown up. There was indignation, righteous indigna- 
tion, of course, and plenty of it, and Alexander Anderson, 
magistrate of police, offered a reward of $400 for proof suffi- 
cient to convict the perpetrator of the deed. 

The perpetrator was not caught. Indeed, as the election 
came off a very few days thereafter and Harrison and Tyler 
went in with a hurrah, receiving 234 electoral votes to Van 
Buren’s 60, the matter was, as usual in such cases, suffered to 
pass into oblivion, to be resurrected at the hands of an exploring 
semi-antiquarian, who may he allowed to subscribe himself, 

Senex, Jr. 


About 1810 or 1811 the Wilmington Gazette 1 was published 
by a Mr. Hasell. The Cape Fear Recorder was established in 
the spring of 1818. Later, for several years, it was edited by 
Archibald McLean Hooper. Contemporaneously with the Re- 
corder for a short time the Wilmington Herald , a Universalist 
paper, was published by Rev. Jacob Frieze, assisted, perhaps, 
by others. In the Recorder of February 6, 1828, appears a 
very suggestive advertisement announcing that the Herald was 
necessarily discontinued. On January 9, 1833, appeared the 
first number of the People's Press , edited by P. W. Fanning 
and Thomas Loring. The Wilmington Advertiser , edited by 
H. S. Ellenwood, was published at this time; how long before 
this is not known. On April 2 of this year Mr. Ellenwood died. 
His reputation as that of a gentleman of scholarly tastes and 
aptitudes survives until the present. Mr. Fanning soon learned, 
as so many who essay newspaper publication do, that the edi- 
torial chair is far from being a post of luxurious ease, and on 
May 1, 1833, he laid down the pen after an article in which with 
the honesty and frankness characteristic of him he explained 
his disgust with the profession, or rather with his experience 
of the journalistic life. The People's Press then combined with 
the Advertiser , having as sole editor, Mr. Thomas Loring. On 

ir rhis account of Wilmington newspapers is published, notwithstand- 
ing a fuller account elsewhere in the Chronicles, because of much inti- 
mate information here given which is supplementary to the longer 
article on this subject. 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

January 8, 1836, the name People’s Press was dropped and 
the paper appeared as number one, volume one, of the Wil- 
mington Advertiser. The Press and the Press and Advertiser 
had been known as ultra- Jacksonian papers. The Advertiser 
as successor had become exceedingly moderate, if not independ- 
ent in its tone, and on the 27th of May Mr. Loring retired. 
Here is a gap in our history; Mr. Loring sold out and presum- 
ably the Advertiser was continued. Trace of it is found in 
1839 and 1840, and the valedictory of Mr. Frederick C. Hill, 
under whose editorial management it was published during 
these last years, appeared in the issue of May 27, 1841. The 
paper ceased to exist from that date. Mr. Hill was highly edu- 
cated, a gentleman of refined manners and scholarly tastes and 
reputed to have wielded the pen in a telling way. It is to he 
regretted that the files of the Advertiser are lost; not even a 
single number of the paper is within reach. This paper was 
intensely, not necessarily violently, Whig in politics. 

The Wilmington Chronicle was established by Asa A. Brown 
March 12, 1839. Mr. Brown had for many years been a mer- 
chant in Wilmington and presumably was a novice in journal- 
ism, but from the first the Chronicle was ably edited, and dur- 
ing the dozen or more years of its existence it did yeoman ser- 
vice in advocating and defending the principles of the Whig 
party. Of the Wilmington Messenger, edited by Hr. William 
J. Price in advocacy of Democratic principles, nothing accurate 
can be learned. That it was published in May, 1843, is known, 
and reference to it in the Chronicle of April 3, 1844, shows that 
it was in existence at that time. In the same way it is known 
that the Wilmington Journal , its successor, was published in 
November of the same year. The Messenger, material and good 
will, it is understood, between the dates last named and probably 
after the presidential election of 1840, passed into the hands of 
Messrs. David Fulton and Alfred L. Price. These gentlemen 
published the Journal until the death of the former, when his 
brother, James Fulton, took editorial charge. The Journal 
(weekly) has continued to this day, and is now owned and 
edited by Joshua T. James, Esq. The Daily Journal under 
Messrs. Fulton and Price did not appear until sometime in the 
early fifties and does not come, within our scope. Of Dr. Price’s 
management and success we can not speak knowingly, but doubt 
not the paper was altogether satisfactory to the Democratic 
party, whose principles it championed. The Fultons were ex- 

Early Years 


ceptionally able in their profession, Irishmen, native horn, if we 
mistake not, and their paper wielded great influence throughout 
the Cape Fear section and beyond. 

Mr. Loring, formerly editor of the Advertiser , published the 
Independent in Raleigh for a while from early in July, 1843; 
but in February, 1846, he returned to Wilmington and with 
Mr. William Stringer published the Tri-W eekly Commercial 
Review. They claimed that their paper was Whig in politics, 
but independently so. It was published well into the fifties, 
whither we do not follow it. 

Other papers may have been published, but if such is the case 
no information concerning them is now available. Perhaps 
these articles may bring to light something essential to a com- 
plete history of these matters. It will be gladly welcomed. 
Whether or not the Wilmington Christian Herald , to be pub- 
lished by Samuel Chandler, ever materialized does not appear. 
The prospectus was published in 1839. 

It is usual to decry the avidity with which the papers of the 
nineties gather up the most trivial matters of local happening, 
but one who gleans from the papers of “auld lang syne” can not 
but wish they had possessed the disposition complained of. 
Very many matters that would go far to throw light upon the 
people or the times of those days apparently were too well 
known to need be chronicled, and so many an important link to 
history is wanting. The local editor and the ubiquitous re- 
porter were not known in those days. 

And now let us get more definitely and distinctly into the 
forties, leaving any digressions to come in incidentally. Time, 
Wednesday, January 1, 1840. Place, intersection of Front and 
Market Streets. Occasion, annual hiring of negroes. Various 
colors were there, black perhaps predominating. It was a time 
of times, a busy time, for in a few hours all the domestic ar- 
rangements depending on servitude were to be unsettled and for 
twelve months rearranged. Many a housewife had been looking 
to the first of the year in the hope of a change that would give 
her more of ease and less perhaps of labor than she had enjoyed 
or suffered during the year just past, and many a servant had 
been bearing with more or less of patience, longingly looking to 
a change of master or of mistress. Some were to be bettered, 
some to be worsted, but the star of hope was over all, and though 
there would be rain — was there ever a first without rain ? — and 
though it had passed into a proverb that the heavens wept on 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

hiring day for the deeds of darkness done, still it was hardly to 
be reckoned a day of sadness or of gloom. Uncertainty there 
was, and with uncertainty a doubt akin to fear, yet over all and 
above all the star of hope arose. There were some tears, but 
there were many smiles. There was some gloom as one went to 
a master always reckoned hard, and there was also gladness as 
another went to his or her chosen place of servitude. Owners 
in general heard the complaints of their slaves, and in tender- 
ness and sympathy as well as from self-interest provided for 
them; they saw that they were fed and clothed or they would 
know the reason why. 

But, whether bright or dark, those days are gone, and who 
would bring them hack ? And yet it is easier to call them wrong 
than to prove them so. 

In 1840, as has been said, Wilmington contained 4,268 souls. 
Of these 1,004 were white males and 916 white females. Of 
free colored people there were 356, of slaves 1,992. Mr. Alex- 
ander Anderson was magistrate of police. At that date every 
little town or village did not aspire to he governed by a mayor, 
and despite the title of the chief officer, guardsmen were simply 
town guards and not policemen or police. Mr. Anderson had 
resided in Wilmington just forty years; he arrived here from 
the North January 1, 1800. He was at the time president of 
the Branch Bank of the State, and was occupying or had occu- 
pied every office of honor or trust the citizens could confer upon 
him. He rises before our memory as very like his son, Hr. 
Edwin A. Anderson, who was taken from us but a year or two 
ago. Quite as venerable he was in appearance; indeed, for 
years before his death he was known as “Old Mr. Sandy Ander- 
son.” He died November 15, 1844, at the age of sixty. 

James E. McRee, Armand J. HeBosset, sr., E. P. Hall, and 
W. J. Harriss had been elected town commissioners in 1839 and, 
save Hr. Harriss, who died in the spring of 1839, were still in 
office. Senex, J r. 


It might properly have been mentioned in connection with the 
history of newspapers published in Wilmington, that the Chron- 
icle in the opening days of 1840 was printed in a building stand- 
ing where the shoe store of Peterson & Rulfs now stands, on the 
west side of Front Street, a very few yards above Market. The 

Early Years 


building was destroyed by fire in January of that year, and dis- 
continuance of the paper was enforced for eight or ten weeks. 
When revived the printing and publishing quarters were in a 
warehouse in the alley north of the Cape Fear Bank building 
until June, 1840, when the office was reestablished in a building 
which had been erected on the old site. Here it continued 
through the forties, and until it ceased to appear. 

The Wilmington Journal, in the fall of 1844, was published 
in the Bettencourt Building, corner Front and Princess Streets, 
now occupied by I. H. Weil. The Journal Building, on Prin- 
cess Street, was built for it when it launched out into publica- 
tion of the daily edition, and there it remained for probably a 
quarter of a century or more. 

The Tri-Weekly Commercial was published by Stringer & 
Whitaker — not Boring & Stringer as we stated — on the south- 
west corner of Front and Market in what was long afterwards 
known as the Commercial Building, and which is now occupied 
by the confectionery establishment of Mrs. E. Warren & Son. 
The offices and pressroom were in an upper story, the lower 
being occupied as a dry-goods store by Kahnweiler Brothers. 
For the convenience of the public, the arrivals of the mails then 
being exceedingly irregular, there stood upon the roof of the 
Commercial Building a flagstaff from which a flag floated at the 
proper times, with the word ‘‘Steamboat” in white letters upon 
a blue ground, or “Cars” in white upon a red ground, thus an- 
nouncing that the mails had arrived and soon would be at the 
disposal of the public. 

Some information has come to hand relative to Mr. William 
Soranzo Hasell, who edited the Wilmington Gazette: He was 
born in Wilmington and here lived and died. Graduated from 
Yale College in 1799, being then only eighteen years of age, he 
studied for the profession of law, but soon abandoned it and for 
a time kept a bookstore and circulating library, afterwards along 
with this occupation editing the Gazette until 1815, when he 
died, aged thirty-four. In 1840 there stood on the southwest 
corner of Third and Ann Streets — set well back from either 
street and fronting on Ann — a house showing decided marks of 
the ravages of time, but still a building of massive proportions, 
pink-stuccoed, and bearing indications otherwise, especially 
taken along with the surroundings, of having been the residence 
of people of wealth. It was known at the period of which we 
write as the “Williams Castle,” but was understood to have been 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

formerly the property of a Mr. Hasell, almost certainly of the 
gentleman of whom we have been writing or his parents. 

Of the physicians of Wilmington in 1840 Dr. John D. Bel- 
lamy alone survives. Mentally his how still abides in strength, 
and the chances and changes of well-nigh fourscore years have 
not otherwise in the main dealt unkindly with him. He came 
to Wilmington late in the thirties, studied with Dr. William J. 
Harriss, and at the death of Dr. Harriss, in 1839, succeeded to 
his extensive and laborious practice. In May, 1846, Dr. Wil- 
liam W. Harriss was taken into copartnership, and in the course 
of three or four years Dr. Bellamy retired and devoted himself 
to other business, principally farming. He owned large estates, 
the work of superintending and managing which was quite as 
lucrative as medical practice, and far less toilsome. 

The loss of a physician in large practice for obvious reasons 
causes deeper sorrow, and sorrow more extensive in its reach, 
than that of any other member of a community, not even faith- 
ful pastors being excepted, and this affection, which entwines 
around the hearts of those who receive the doctor’s services, 
doubtless is the great compensation for the privations and trials 
and strains upon the sympathetic nature which inevitably attend 
medical practice. Especially must this be so in villages and 
smaller towns, where physicians come into closer social rela- 
tions than in the larger cities. These observations apply with 
special force to the loss sustained in the death of Dr. Harriss, 
who has been referred to, and of others who are yet to be 

Dr. Armand J. DeBosset, sr., in 1840 was seventy-three 
years of age, and still in vigorous practice. He had been for a 
quarter of a century in charge of the Seamen’s Hospital and 
continued in service until late in the fifties, practicing on horse- 
back when ninety years of age. He died in 1859, aged ninety- 

Dr. J ames E. McRee, sr., was, like Dr. DeBosset, not only a 
skillful and beloved physician, but one of the most influential 
citizens of his day. It has been noted that both these gentle- 
men were commissioners of the town in 1840. In 1840, and 
possibly for years thereafter, Dr. McRee was magistrate of 
police, the chief officer of the place. On April 26, 1843, he 
took into copartnership his son, Dr. J. E. McRee, jr., and not a 
great while after retired to enjoy abundant and well-earned rest, 

Early Years 


while engaging in the scientific studies to which he was natur- 
ally disposed and in which he greatly delighted. 

Before settling in Wilmington Dr. William A. Berry had 
been in the medical service of the United States. He retired 
from practice in the later fifties with ample means. He suc- 
ceeded Dr. DeBosset as hospital physician in 1845, and died 
in 1875. 

The profession did not hold Dr. Edwin A. Anderson continu- 
ously in its practice. In 1840 and for a year or two thereafter 
he followed it, and then went into sawmilling and afterwards 
into merchandizing and turpentine distilling. Subsequently he 
resumed practice and was engaged in it up to, or nearly up to, 
his death, about a year ago. 

The recollections of the writer as concerns the doctors of 
fifty-five years ago are more vivid regarding Dr. Louis J. 
Poisson, perhaps, than any other. He comes before the mind, 
not very distinctly, it is true, as of medium height, spare in 
figure, with an intellectual cast of countenance and features 
rather sharp, though not unpleasantly so. A gentleman of 
affable manners without the least suspicion of lack of frankness, 
one whose gentleness would win a hoy of eight or ten, even in 
spite of the dread which must needs accompany his ministra- 
tions. For a while before the death of Dr. Poisson he was quite 
infirm in health. In 1842 or 1843 he took into copartnership 
Dr. James H. Dickson, who had returned from Hew York City, 
and October 26, 1843, he died at the early age of thirty-four. 

It has been said that fifty or sixtj^ years ago physicians com- 
pounded their own prescriptions and practiced on horseback. 
The diseases they had to meet were not those which are now 
encountered, nor the medicines they used the same as now. The 
old-fashioned bilious fever was a terror in those days. We now 
never hear it mentioned. Those were the days of bloodletting 
and of cataplasms. Salts and senna and calomel and jalap were 
household articles, and the children in the spring were regularly 
called up to receive the matutinal dose of aloes. Quinine was 
hardly known and Peruvian bark had to do its work, along with 
dogwood bitters and other things which now will hardly be 
found in the pharmacopoeia. 

Ho profit was to be had certainly in taking medical care of 
the poor of the county and furnishing the medicines for them at 
$50 a year, yet that was all allowed for the service. The slaves, 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

however, who were over half the population, were provided for 
by their masters. 

What has been written has referred only to the regular allo- 
pathic practice. Homeopathy, though Hahnemann had done 
and suffered in behalf of his principle of similia for thirty 
years or more, was not known here. The Thompsonian Botanic 
practice, in which number six figured conspicuously, was repre- 
sented by Dr. W. H. Buffaloe, who held forth on Second Street, 
near what is now called Meginney’s corner, as the successor of 
one Dr. Foy who had engaged in similar practice about this time. 

The county poorhouse throughout the forties stood on the 
square bounded by Fourth, Walnut, Fifth, and Bed Cross 
Streets. It was located near the center of the square and was 
the only house within the area. But the “Poorhouse Square,” 
as it was called, was not the only one upon which a single build- 
ing stood on guard, as it were, to all the space around. The 
“Thunder-and-Lightning House” occupied in 1840 a similar 
position on the square bounded by Fourth, Orange, Fifth, and 
Dock Streets. The peculiar name attached to the building, it 
has always been supposed, was because of its having several 
times received the bolts of the elements. On the square upon 
which the First Presbyterian Church now stands there was in 
1840 but one house occupied by white people. That was the 
building, pulled down a few years ago, which stood immediately 
in the rear of the church and which was purchased, with the 
land upon which the house of worship stands, from the late A. 
H. VanBokkelen. The house now owned and occupied by Capt. 
John F. Divine, was owned by Mr. Aaron Lazarus in 1840 and 
was the only dwelling on that square. The greater part of the 
square, all owned by Mr. Lazarus and known as the Lazarus 
lot, was a delightful grove, where, by the kind permission of the 
owners, Queen of May celebrations were held. Possibly other 
localities might be cited like to these, but it is unnecessary. The 
town was not compactly built and some not yet in their seventies 
remember picking chinquapins where the synagogue now stands, 
gathering persimmons in the “Old ? 76” lot on Ann between 
Front and Second, or picking low-bush huckleberries on Church 
hear Fourth. Here and there all over the present city are 
dwelling-houses that were built many years before 1840. On 
Market the present residence of Dr. A. J. DeBosset is one of 
them — in 1840 and long before occupied by Dr. A. J. DeBosset, 
sr. Opposite, on the southwest corner of Market and Third, 

Early Years 


still stands the house which was the headquarters of Lord Corn- 
wallis in 1781. The building on the northeast corner also dates 
back a hundred years or so — so the building adjoining on the 
east and others in the same locality. The present residence of 
Mr. M. Cronly and some others on that square go back many 
decades; indeed, one might count a full half score between 
Orange and Ann, Fifth Street and the river. So on the west 
side of Second Street between Market and Dock are houses that 
carry us back to the days of yore. In 1840 Mr. Murdock 
McKay lived in one, a Mrs. Bishop in another. Around the 
corner on Dock going towards the river are two residences of 
the kind we are speaking of. It is not necessary to mention 
others; they can, when built of wood, easily be distinguished. 
Whenever the sides are built of common three-inch cypress or 
juniper shingles they go hack almost certainly well on to a cen- 
tury in age — sometimes over. The brick store on the southwest 
corner of Front and Princess, occupied by I. H. Weil, and the 
wooden buildings on the southwest corner of Market and Second 
Streets along the southern line of Market, known as the Betten- 
court property, might be termed fire repellers. The flames have 
surged around them time and again hut have never left even the 
smell of fire upon them. 

The buildings mentioned, and others, have been more or less 
modernized from time to time, sometimes to the extent of entire 
transformation. But the dwelling-house on the southwest corner 
of Fifth and Orange Streets, now owned and occupied by Rev. 
Daniel Morrelle, in 1840 the residence of Gen. Alexander 
MacRae, and years before that of Mr. Davis, the father of Hon. 
George Davis, is very likely more nearly now what it was one 
hundred years ago than any other residence in the city. 

Before we leave this subject let us call attention to the fact 
that on the organization of St. John’s Lodge of Masons, say 
one hundred years ago, they occupied the old Brown building 
on the south side of Orange between Front and Second Streets. 
The lodge was afterwards removed to the corner of Front and 
Chestnut Streets — southwest corner — and again to Front near 
Red Cross, where early in 1841 the building was sold and con- 
verted into a hotel kept by David Jones — not the proprietor of 
that dread place so well known to seamen as “Davy Jones’s 
locker.” In the same year, 1841, the lodge found rest from its 
wanderings in its present location on Market Street. 

One of the most noted buildings of “auld lang syne,” which 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

was razed to the ground only a few years since to give place to 
the dwellings on the east side of Front Street, between Orange 
and Ann, was the “Old ? 76.” It was a large two^story brick 
building, stuccoed white, with wide piazzas above and below 
running all the way around. It sat right upon the run of Tan 
Yard Branch, and its first floor was several feet lower than the 
present level of Front Street. It was a sailor hoarding house, 
but was utilized by the politicians of the early days as a rallying 
place for their forces on the eve of exciting elections. 

Senex, Jr. 


Attention has been called to the fact that in enumerating 
buildings of great age or of peculiar construction the residence 
of the late John Walker, Esq., is worthy of being considered. 
This building stood near the center of the square bounded by 
Front, Princess, Second, and Chestnut Streets, fronting on 
Princess. Set back well from the street, it had a very spacious 
yard in front. The house was built of brick, had a double piazza 
— such is the recollection of the writer — and was covered with 
Dutch tiles in corrugated form. There is reason to believe it 
was built in 1781. It had been tenantless for a long time pre- 
vious to its destruction, which was several years ago. 

It may as well he confessed here that the list of hoys in the 
classical school of Mr. Robert Lindsay — which list was given 
recently — was sadly defective in omitting the names of Oscar 
G. Parsley and David S. Cowan, those truly good hoys. 

In the early forties the judges of the Superior Courts were 
Dick, Manly, Settle, Battle, Bailey, Rash, and Pearson. Some 
of these afterwards attained eminence in the Supreme Court. 
The Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, commonly known as 
the County Court, had a session each spring, summer, fall, and 
winter. Attorneys were licensed first to practice here, and later, 
very soon after ordinarily, received license to practice in the 
Superior Courts. The last County Court held in Hew Hanover 
in the name of the King was held on January 2, 1776, and the 
next court was on January 7, 1777. The justices present were 
George Moore, William Purviance, John Robinson, Timothy 
Bloodworth, Sampson Moseley, John Lillington, Samuel Swann, 
John Ancrum, William Wilkinson, William Jones, and John 
DuBois. They were commissioned by the Governor, and after 

Early Years 


duly organizing they elected two inspectors for Wilmington and 
a sheriff for the county. Jonathan Dunbibin was elected regis- 
ter in place of Adam Boyd, who held the position under the old 
regime. We digress here to say that this Adam Boyd formerly 
edited the Cape Fear Mercury , which appeared in Wilmington 
October 13, 1769, and was discontinued in 1775. 

The county justices seem to have undergone little or no change 
throughout their entire existence of nearly a century. In ordi- 
nary trial sessions, one magistrate presided, having on the bench 
with him two or three other magistrates. The position of chair- 
man, or chief magistrate, required considerable legal knowledge 
and invested one with a good deal of power. Col. James T. 
Miller and Mr. William A. Wright held the post and performed 
the duties admirably for years. 

Hot one of the resident lawyers of 1840 is now living. Mr. 
M. London, who died quite recently, had been engaged in mer- 
chandizing for several years before he entered upon the practice 
of law. He was licensed to practice about January 1, 1840, and 
was one of the ablest lawyers who ever practiced at the bar in 
Hew Hanover County. Owen Holmes died suddenly in June, 
1840. Messrs. William A. Wright, Joshua G. Wright, T. C. 
Miller and Daniel B. Baker lived and practiced throughout the 
forties. Mr. George Davis was admitted to practice very early 
in 1841 ; afterwards John London, who died soon after licen- 
sure; and Griffith J. McBee still later; Thomas D. Meares, 
James A. Peden, John A. Lillington, T. Burr, jr., Hill Bur- 
gwyn, Thomas D. Walker, David Fulton, William Hill, John L. 
Holmes, and others whose names are not at hand. Mr. William 
B. Meares, one of the strongest members of the bar, had retired 
before 1840 to give attention to other interests. He died Octo- 
ber 11, 1842. Messrs. David Reid and Hardy Lucian Holmes 
came to Wilmington from other counties. They stood high on 
the roll of attorneys. 

In those days the whipping post was an instrument or an in- 
stitution or a means for punishment of offenders — a most effi- 
cient one, too. It savored of barbarity undoubtedly and was ter- 
ribly degrading, still there are crimes for which the whipping 
post is and ever will be the only befitting punishment. As to 
barbarity, it does not approach in that respect the public stran- 
gling to death of human beings. This was universal in those 
days, and even now is tolerated in Horth Carolina where the 
county commissioners find a public demand for it. Happily the 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

day is past when any such heathenism can he exhibited in New 
Hanover County. 

Many now living will remember that Charles, a slave of 
P. K. Dickinson, was publicly hanged between Seventh and 
Eighth Streets about midway and a few yards back of the south- 
ern line of the street. A few years later Thomas Broughton 
was hanged on the square to the north and just opposite for the 
murder of a Portuguese named De Silva. A curious incident is 
connected with the trial and execution of Broughton. F or quite 
a while no clue could be found leading to the detection of the 
assassin of De Silva. But Broughton, why so impelled is not 
known, went before the grand jury and attempted to criminate 
another man. His examination brought suspicion upon himself 
and led to further investigation. Articles that had belonged to 
De Silva were found in his possession and other criminating cir- 
cumstances were brought to light. He was tried and on purely 
circumstantial evidence was convicted. An appeal was taken to 
the Supreme Court on the ground of inadmissibility of the testi- 
mony of the foreman of the grand jury above referred to, which 
testimony was given on the trial. This was the grand jury be- 
fore the one that indicted Broughton. The higher court over- 
ruled the objection and Broughton was hanged. He protested 
his innocence on the gallows. Nevertheless, the impression was 
well-nigh universal that he was guilty of the crime for which he 

The courthouse on the first of January, 1840, stood at the 
intersection of Front and Market Streets, say about 50 feet 
across Front and about 75 or 80 feet across Market. The brick 
pavement, answering to the lower floor of a residence, was about 
one foot, possibly a little more, above the level of the street. A 
broad arch gave entrance at either end on Front Street. On the 
sides running across Market a small arch in the center served 
as entrance, and on each side of this arch and on both sides of 
the building were similar arches across which were benches, 
rather shelves, serving as seats. The boys of that day found 
delight in playing in and around this part of the courthouse, 
and the older ones met there in the hot summer afternoons to 
discuss politics and save the country. 

The court room proper and such other rooms as were necessary 
were in the upper story and were reached by a stairway located 
in the southwest corner. The building was constructed of brick 
and was painted bright yellow on the outside, trimmed with 

Early Years 


white and painted white on the inside. By an act of the Legis- 
lature of 1756, the courthouses of the State were to he used for 
all public purposes. Somewhere about 1843 or 1844 the County 
Court, overlooking this or in ignorance of it, prohibited political 
meetings in the courthouse, but they were very soon set back on 
the matter. 

The town hall in 1840 stood at the intersection of Market and 
Second Streets, and was in structure very much like the court- 
house, though not provided with seats, we think, for the comfort 
of loungers. It was open below and paved, and may at one time 
have been used as a market house in the lower part. The locality 
went by the name of “Mud Market.” The market house of the 
writer’s day was a most unsightly structure which stood on Mar- 
ket Street between Front Street and the river, about 150 feet 
from Front Street and running back some fifty or sixty feet. It 
was built of brick. The pavement serving for the floor was 
reached by mounting a large piece of ton timber which served 
for a step. The entrance was a wide arch, and the entire roof 
was supported by pillars forming the upright sides of arches. 
At the farther end, because of elevation in consequence of slope 
of the streets, were a platform and stairs as means of entrance 
and exit. Under this end of the market house was a room which 
at one time served as a guardhouse. This building gave place 
in the spring of 1848 to a market house on the same site; a very 
great improvement in appearance and in suitableness for its 
purpose. It was 25 feet wide and about 100 to 125 feet long, 
with a roof of galvanized iron resting on light iron pillars. In 
turn this gave place some twenty years later to the present one 
on Front Street. 

William Henry Harrison was nominated on December 4, 
1839, as the Whig candidate for President. A meeting to ratify 
the nomination was held in the courthouse on the night of Janu- 
ary 16, 1840, and was addressed by delegates who had returned 
from the nominating convention. On the morning of the 18th 
the courthouse was in ashes. About midnight, or a little before, 
of the 17th a fire broke out in the store of John Dawson on the 
northeast corner of Front and Market Streets and rapidly swept 
into ruin all the houses on the entire square except the building 
(which is still there) on the southeast corner of Front and Prin- 
cess and the dwelling-house of Mr. J. P. Calhorda immediately 
in the rear. The flames crossed Front Street and were arrested 
at the Bank of Cape Fear building in their progress north. But 

190 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

they swept off everything between the corner of Front Street 
and the river and destroyed every building on the river front. 
On the square where the fire originated the Clarendon Hotel 
stood on the present site of the Purcell House, and the post office 
was a room on the alley. Wilkings’ stables, as they were called, 
though Winslow S. Wilkings had died in October, 1837, stood 
where Fennell’s stables are now. The northern side of Market 
Street was then as now occupied by grocery and dry-goods and 
other stores; and on the alleys were dwellings, as well as on 
Front, Market, and Princess Streets. In many cases those 
dwellings were rooms above the stores. 

On the other square, at the corner just across from Dawson’s, 
stood the shop (office it would now be called) of Dr. Armand J. 
DeRosset, sr. This was consumed with the Chronicle office just 
north of it and the dry-goods and general sales stores of Wright 
and Savage, John Wooster, Samuel Shuter, C. B. Miller, Daniel 
Dickson, Kelly & McCaleb, and others on the line of Market 
Street, the custom house, then standing on the same site as now, 
the store and warehouses of Aaron Lazarus, and the business 
houses of many others on Water Street, north of Market. 

The shop of Dr. DeRosset was entered by a row of steps 
cornering on Market and Front Streets, and running up some 
six or eight feet from the street. The custom house is not re- 
membered by the present writer, to whom the river front at that 
time was forbidden ground. The customs were collected and 
the business appertaining thereto transacted for a while after 
the fire in a room just where is now the office of A. S. Heide, 
Esq., Danish vice consul. At this time Gen. Louis H. Mar- 
steller was collector of customs. Afterwards the custom house 
was on North Water Street between Princess and Chestnut 
Streets. Mr. W. C. Lord was collector here under appointment 
of President Tyler, but in a few months, the President having 
changed his political status, Mr. Lord was superseded by Mr. 
Murphy V. J ones. The present custom house became ready for 
occupancy during Mr. Jones’s incumbency of the collectorship, 
or possibly a very little while before he entered upon its duties, 
say in the latter part of 1842 or early in 1843. 

One incident connected with this fire every one then in his 
teens or older very vividly remembers — the blowing up of Philip 
Bassadier. In those days when water had to be pumped into 
and thrown from fire engines by the hardest kind of physical 
labor, it might seem unnecessary to say that other means than 

Early Years 


throwing water had to be resorted to to stay the progress of the 
flames. The most efficient means then known was the blowing 
up of buildings by gunpowder — no dynamite then. This work 
was, if not in 1840, certainly afterwards, confided to persons of 
discretion who received their authority direct from the town 
commissioners. It became necessary to resort to the means re- 
ferred to in the Dawson fire, and in blowing up some buildings 
about the center of the square, where the fire originated, Philip 
Bassadier went up. He was taken off terribly bloody and very 
seriously wounded, it was supposed at the time mortally 
wounded. But Philip, who, by the way, was one of the politest 
of men, albeit not of the Caucasian race, lived to be the admira- 
tion of the small boys of the period, and to furnish music for 
pleasure-loving youths for many years. But of this we may 
come to speak at another time. Senex, Jr. 

(Since writing the above a letter has been received from one 
unusually informed and accurate on local matters of the olden 
time, and who, but for the disrespect seemingly attached, and 
the utter incongruity of association, might be called “Old 
Hick.” It will receive due attention hereafter.) 


The friend referred to in the last article furnishes some cor- 
rections or additions from very accurate remembrance, and 
place is gladly given them. He was a pupil of Miss Laura 
Rankin (since Mrs. Roth well) when she taught in what was 
and is known as Horthrop’s Alley, running through from Front 
to Second Street between Dock and Orange. Other boys were 
George Harriss, Mike Cronly, Eli Hall, Henry Law, and of a 
younger set, Hehemiah Harriss, John Morris, Dick Savage, 
Hick Schenck, and so on. Girls in the same school were Sarah 
Peck, Augusta Law, Emily Howard, Fanny Lippitt, Caroline 
VanViel, Caroline and Clarissa Horthrop, Mag and Kate 
McLaurin, Aletta Jane Schenck, Sarah and May Savage, Har- 
riet and Caroline Brown, and others. Mr. Walsh, later a Pres- 
byterian minister, afterwards taught in the same place. 

We are reminded, too, that Mr. Jesse Mulock, who came from 
Orange, H. Y., first taught in a house on the site now occupied 
by Burr and Bailey, and afterwards where mentioned in a 
former article. His school became very prosperous and he 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

brought out his brother Charles (was it not John?), but was 
driven from the field by the Odd Fellows 5 School, He then went 
into the shipping commission business, having for his clerk An- 
thony D. Cazaux. Afterwards, he engaged in turpentine distill- 
ing, and finally returned North, where he died in a good old age. 

Mr. Mulock’s principle in teaching was thoroughness. There 
were no heads nor tails to his classes. Boys came up to the front 
bench to recite and standing erect were questioned, or went to 
the blackboard to do the “sums,” as the problems in mathemat- 
ics were called. Smith’s grammar was used and Walker’s dic- 
tionary. A part of speech was named and parsed, with the rea- 
son why for everything. A word was spelled and defined, and 
a sentence constructed with the word properly used therein. 
There was no precise verbal memorizing required, and there 
could be no dodging nor evasion. The chinquapin was always 
ready for use and was in frequent demand. Boys were detained 
sometimes until long after nightfall, as “Nick” puts it, “staying 
in until perfect, even to the bringing of your candle for night 
study.” Being a very small boy, the writer was excused from 
night service. Day’s algebra, we thought, was the hardest alge- 
bra to be sure. It most certainly tried one’s intellectual calibre 
more than Davies’, which was used in the Odd Fellows’ School. 
But we are reminded that Mr. Mulock was patient with all boys 
and helpful to all, even while he required good conduct and 
exacted perfect lessons. 

As to Madame Clement’s and Miss Yerina Moore’s schools, 
about which we are asked, they came on after the forties — that 
is our recollection. Miss Yerina afterwards married Dr. B. H. 
Chapman, a Presbyterian minister, taught school in Goldsboro, 
perhaps also in Asheville, and died at the latter place a few 
years since. 

Our last article closed with the blowing up of Philip Bassa- 
dier. He was, as has been said, of mixed blood and appears to 
have come to Wilmington from one of the West Indian Islands 
long before the days of the forties. At that time he was recog- 
nized as a character. He was exceedingly Frenchy in his polite- 
ness and doubtless the only tonsorial artist in the town. At least 
the following advertisement, which appeared in the Chronicle 
of November 1, 1843, would indicate that then for the first time 
Walsh Bevells or some one else was making his opposition felt. 
Here is Philip’s ad., after an announcement of his readiness to 
serve the public : “He has carried on this business in Wilming- 

Early Years 


ton for upwards of forty years, which he thinks some evidence 
of merit in the use of razors and scissors, and as giving him 
some claim to public patronage/’ There seems to be force in the 
claim. Philip, with his grey-white kinky hair, brown com- 
plexion, and knee breeches — well, maybe not — looms up before 
us now. His shop stood at the corner of the alley next north of 
Boatwright’s store, on the precise site of that store in fact, a 
small one-story wooden building with the inevitable striped pole 
in front, and there he was to he found presumably for forty 
years before 1843. The shop was destroyed by fire on the early 
morning of November 26, 1846. Perhaps too much time and 
space are given to Philip Bassadier, hut he can not be dismissed 
without reference to his musical ability, displayed as violinist 
on festive occasions of all kinds, at the theatres, etc., and espe- 
cially of his services as bugle man to the Clarendon Horse 
Guards about 1845. and later. The Horse Guards, under com- 
mand of Hr. James F. McRee, jr., and later of Capt. William 
C. Howard, to the small hoys of the period stood as representa- 
tive of military pomp and prowess, hut the company itself did 
not call forth more admiration than Philip Bassadier as, early 
in the morning on the day of the “turn out,” he blew his bugle 
at one street corner, then in a gallop rushed to another, reined 
up, and again awakened the echoes with his blast. We see him 
now in his cocked hat and red flannel coat and note the beaming 
pride on his countenance, and we almost hear the shouts of de- 
light of the urchins enjoying it all. 

The Wilmington Volunteers on April 30, 1840, celebrated 
their ninth anniversary. They were then in command of Junius 
H. Gardner. Afterwards Capt. O. G. Parsley was chief in com- 
mand, and previously, probably, Capt. John MacRae. This 
company was the pride of our town in those days, and on the 
anniversaries it always had target practice at Hogg’s Folly, and 
thereafter marched through the streets, the well-torn target in 
the rear and the best marksman, usually Billy Burch, or Mr. 
Jimmy, his brother, conspicuous in the ranks by reason of the 
yellow plume which decorated his cap and proclaimed his skill. 
The New Hanover Rifle Corps paraded the first time Novem- 
ber 3, 1841, with R. F. Brown as captain, R. G. Rankin, first 
lieutenant, J. B. Cumming, second lieutenant, and Louis H. 
Pierce, third. In 1846, about June, the Wilmington Guards 
were formed, with James Anderson, captain, Alexander Mac- 
Rae, jr., first lieutenant, Henry Nutt, second lieutenant, and 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

James Burch, orderly sergeant. These companies might come 
and they might go, but it was the militia ununiformed — not 
necessarily uninformed — that rolled on forever. The Thirtieth 
Regiment of North Carolina Militia, under command of Col. 
John MacRae, and afterwards of others, was a great institution. 
The upper division paraded at Long Creek and the lower divi- 
sion assembled annually at Wilmington in the fall of the year. 
On this review Brigadier General Marstellar came out with his 
staff and sometimes Maj. Gen. Alexander MacRae with his. 
Colonel Andrews, Col. James T. Miller, Col. John MacRae, 
Maj. W. N. Peden, and maybe others graced these occasions. 
It was a time of times for the boys. The Wilmington Militia, 
with Dr. Billy Ware as orderly sergeant in front, stretching his 
abbreviated limbs to keep the regulation step, was a conspicuous 
part. The parade took place in what was then called “Ore- 
gon.” It was about the time that the Oregon boundary question 
was up, and the politicians shouted for “phifty-four phorty or 
phight,” and afterwards fell back to “phorty-nine.” In “Ore- 
gon” — that is about where the Chestnut Street Presbyterian 
Church now stands, or a little north of it. 

The Wilmington and Raleigh Railroad Company was char- 
tered by the Legislature early in 1834. On January 1, 1836, 
announcement was made that $200,000 had been subscribed to 
the capital stock, and when $300,000 should he subscribed the 
company would he organized and work commenced. Work was 
commenced in October of the same year, and after struggling 
against difficulties such as are not known in these latter days, 
and at an immense sacrifice to those who put their financial 
means into the work and to those who gave their business time 
and energies to it, the last spike was driven March 7, 1840. The 
road was chartered in the expectation of running from Wil- 
mington to the State capital, hut it was soon found that the 
funds for completion could not be obtained in that direction 
and the present route was located. The name was not changed 
to Wilmington and Weldon until comparatively recently. None 
of the equipment was what we are accustomed to now. The 
engines could not pull even a light train up a slight incline, and 
so the passengers and baggage had to he run up the hill as at 
present, and while the passengers descended a long flight of steps 
and walked to the boat landing, one or two hundred yards away, 
the baggage was shot down an incline to a hand-car and rolled 
away to the steamers in waiting. Happily, baggage smashers 

Early Years 


had not arrived at the perfection to which they have since at- 
tained and Saratoga trunks were then unknown. It was the 
day of bandboxes and bundles to try the patience of husbands 
or other male attendants. Checks for baggage were unknown. 
They soon came into vogue, but for special railroad lines only. 
Engines in those days were doll babies or sandfiddlers to the 
giants in size and weight and power of the present time. A 
train of eight or ten cars each with carrying capacity not one- 
fourth probably of the present was a sight to see, and the 
coaches were not coaches as we know them at all, but cars made 
somewhat like unto the stagecoaches they superseded. Think 
of the time advertised between Hew York and Philadelphia, 
100 miles, being eight hours. 

Capt. James Owen was president of the road at its comple- 
tion, Gen. Alexander MacRae, superintendent, and Walter 
Gwyn, who had been in charge throughout the building, was still 
chief engineer of construction. The four steamers owned by 
the company and forming a line to Charleston — the Vanderbilt , 
Governor Dudley , North Carolina , and Wilmington — were 
not comparable in size or in convenience to the palaces of the 
present day in similar service elsewhere, but they were never- 
theless very comfortable, very staunch and strong, and com- 
manded by experienced, careful, and fearless seamen — such 
men as Captains Davis, Marshall, Ivy, Smith, Bates, Sterrett, 
Wade, and others. One or two accidents occurred, however, 
but without loss of life. On or about January 7, 1839, the 
North Carolina and the Vanderbilt collided off Georgetown 
Light, and both had to go into Charleston for repairs. On 
Sunday, July 26, 1840, at 1 a. m., thirty miles northeast of 
Georgetown, the Governor Dudley and the North Carolina 
came into collision, and in a very few minutes the latter vessel 
went down beneath the waves. All the passengers were saved, 
but some, all probably, without befitting clothes. Some mem- 
bers of Congress were aboard, among them Hon. Dixon H. 
Lewis, the 500-pounder of Alabama. In his disrobed state he 
was a curiosity as well as an object of sympathy when he ar- 
rived in Wilmington. The Governor Dudley was not hurt by 
the collision and came on to port. She was seriously delayed, 
of course. The North Carolina had not been long in the ser- 
vice since her former accident. The steamer Huntress was 
put on the line temporarily in place of the sunken steamer, 
and the Gladiator afterwards came in permanently. When the 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

boats were first put on the line between Wilmington and Charles- 
ton, say in 1839, possibly a little before, the Cape Fear River 
had to be lighted at the expense of the railroad company, as 
navigation at night was a necessity, but Congress in 1840 appro- 
priated $5,000 a year for this service and lighting the river has 
since been a charge of the General Government. 

Perhaps nothing more strongly marks the difference in rail- 
roads between 1842 and 1895 than the fact that between Mon- 
day noon, July 11, 1842, and Thursday night, July 14, 1842, 
three heavy trains were lost between Wilmington and Weldon. 
No one could tell what had become of them. A deluging rain 
had submerged the country between the Roanoke and the Tar 
Rivers, causing three breaches in the road-bed. One or more 
trains got between the rivers and lost all communication with 
the outer world, and one or two others had been thrown from 
the track, in a like situation, by fallen trees. 

Nothing has been said about perils of travel in those days 
of snakeheads and slow brakes, but time and space are up. 

Senex, Jr. 


(The Fayetteville Observer of January, 1850.) 

The public spirit of the citizens of our sister town is really 
amazing; it seems to have no limit when any scheme is pre- 
sented which is regarded as essential to the prosperity or honor 
of the place. And the resources of the community seem to be as 
abundant as the spirit with which they are employed is liberal. 

Some twelve or fourteen years ago, when the population was 
but three or four thousand, she undertook to make a railroad 
161 miles long (the longest in the world), and a steamboat line 
of equal length. For this purpose she subscribed more than 
half a million dollars, we believe. 

This accomplished with almost the total loss of the half mil- 
lion, so far as the stock was concerned, however profitable in 
other respects, one might have expected a pause at least if not a 
total cessation in the march of improvements, and so it would 
have been with almost any other people. But soon the Wil- 
mington and Manchester Railroad was projected, and Wilming- 
ton subscribed to it $180,000. Then came the Deep River and 
Navigation Company, and she gave $30,000 to $40,000, we 
believe, to that. Next the Central Railroad, and she subscribed 

Early Years 


about $50,000, and finally, it being found necessary to raise an 
additional sum for tbe Manchester Road, she held a meeting 
on tbe 5th inst., at which $50,000 more, making $230,000 in 
all, was subscribed to that work. (This was increased to 
$100,000 by the 10th, making $280,000.) 

Thus this community, even now not containing more than 
eight or nine thousand inhabitants, of whom probably not more 
than two-thirds are white, has contributed to public works eight 
or nine hundred thousand dollars — nearly as much as is re- 
quired from the State to secure the Central Railroad. 

With all this prodigious expenditure, who hears of any pres- 
sure of bankruptcy — any interruption of her onward course 
of prosperity? Truly, “There is that scattereth and yet in- 

It is not for the purpose of honoring Wilmington merely 
that we make this statement, but it is to encourage the friends 
of internal improvement throughout the State, and, if possible, 
to remove the objections of those who doubt the policy or profit- 
ableness of the system. 


In the fifties there were frequently as many as ninety vessels 
in the port of Wilmington loading or unloading, or waiting for 
berths at anchor in the stream. The wharves were lined two 
vessels deep, and those waiting for orders were moored nearly 
as far down the river as the Dram Tree. It was a season of 
great activity. 

Also, a large coastwise business in corn in bulk was carried 
on with Hyde County, and for this trade a fleet of small 
schooners called “Corn Crackers’’ was employed. It was most 
exhilarating on a fine day to see this tiny fleet, twenty to thirty 
white wings, rounding the Dram Tree, led by the We're Here , 
I'm Coming , and So Am I, with every stitch of canvas spread to 
the favoring breeze on the last stretch to the Custom-house 

Direct importations of coffee from Rio de Janeiro, of sugar 
and molasses from Cuba, Jamaica, and Demerara, of hoop- 
iron and cotton ties from England, of salt from Turks Island 
and Liverpool employed many square-rigged foreign vessels; 
and three times as many beautifully lined American schooners 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

added miscellaneous cargoes from the North to the overladen 
wharves of Wilmington. 

The following table illustrates the business of Wilmington 
from December 1, 1851, to December 1, 1852 : 

Coastwise Exports from Wilmington from December 1, 1851, to 
December 1, 1852. 

Sawed timber, 17,135,889 feet . . 
Pitch-pine timber, 1,025,202 feet . 
Spirits turpentine, 96,277 barrels 

Rosin, 320,219 barrels 

Tar, 17,522 barrels 

Pitch, 6,660 barrels 

Turpentine, raw, 63,071 barrels.. 

Cotton, 12,988 bales 

Rice, clean, 2,300 casks 

Rice, rough, 64,842 bushels .... 

Peanuts, 93,255 bushels 

Corn, Indian, 5,663 bushels 

Staves, 27,000 

Cotton yarn, 2,434 bales 

Sheetings, 1,702 bales 

Flax seed, 165 casks 

Flax seed, 1,253 bags 













102 . 120.00 



Coastwise total $3,991,561.84 

Foreign exports 549,107.74 

Total coastwise and foreign 


A Few of the Principal Foreign Exports are Subjoined. 

Lumber, feet 15,201,000 

Timber, feet 2,383,814 

Turpentine, barrels 33,596 

The class of merchants and professional men of those days 
was highly respectable and respected; nearly all were men of 
education and refinement, and they were always keenly inter- 
ested in public affairs. I note from memory some of the more 
important business men and firms of importers, commission 
merchants, and shipbrokers, physicians, hankers, and lawyers 
who were established between Orange Street and Red Cross 
Street on the river front, along Water Street and Nutt Street, 
and uptown: 

T. C. & B. G. Worth James H. Chadbourn & Co. 

N. G. Daniel Kidder & Martin 

Pierce & Dudley Joseph H. Neff 

Early Years 


C. W. Styron 
James D. Cumming 
W. H. McKoy & Co. 

Houston & West 
J. R. Blossom & Co. 

A. H. VanBokkelen 
J. E. Lippitt 
H. B. Eilers 
J. L. Hathaway & Utley 

A. W. Coville 
DeRosset & Brown 
Murray & Murchison 
James T. Petteway & Co. 

Ellis & Mitchell 

Hall & Armstrong 
W. H. McRary & Co. 

M. Mclnnis 
Avon E. Hall 
Harriss & Howell 
J. & D. MacRae & Co. 

B. G. & W. J. Monroe 
Clark & Turlington 
Henry Nutt 

C. H. Robinson & Co. 

A. D. Cazaux 
Alexander Oldham 
Smith & McLaurin 

O. G. Parsley & Co. 

Joseph H. Flanner 
W. B. Flanner 
James I. Metts, sr. 

G. O. VanAmringe 

H. P. Russell & Co. 

P. K. Dickinson 

Thomas D. Walker, president 
Wilmington & Manchester 

William S. Ashe, president Wil- 
mington & Weldon Railroad. 
John Dawson 
P. W. Fanning 
John S. James 
W. C. Bettencourt 
Zebulon Latimer 
Adam Empie 
Thomas C. Miller 
Thomas H. Wright, banker 
Joshua G. Wright 
Gilbert Potter 
James S. Green 
William A. Williams 

Rankin & Martin 
Anderson & Savage 
O. P. Meares 
W. B. Meares 
George Davis 
W. A. Wright 
Robert Strange 
Duncan K. MacRae 
Samuel J. Person 
DuBrutz Cutlar 
Griffith J. McRee 
Alexander Anderson 
Dr. E. A. Anderson 
Stephen Jewett 
Timothy Savage 
H. R. Savage 
L. A. Hart 
George Myers 
Charles D. Myers 
J. S. Robinson 
Hedrick & Ryan 
J. S. Williams 
James Dawson 
Richard J. Jones 
Dr. J. Fergus McRee 
Dr. J. F. McRee, jr. 

Dr. James H. Dickson 

Dr. F. J. Cutlar 

Dr. William J. Harriss 

Dr. John D. Bellamy 

Dr. William George Thomas 

Dr. F. J. Hill 

Dr. John Hill 

Dr. W. A. Berry 

Dr. J. C. Walker 

John Wood 

Dr. F. W. Potter 

Dr. John Hampden Hill 

Louis Erambert 

Col. James G. Burr 

Alfred Alderman 

James S. Alderman 

Edward B. Dudley 

James Owen 

Alexander MacRae 

Asa A. Brown 

E. P. Hall 

Joseph H. Watters 

Rev. Father Murphy 

Rev. John L. Pritchard 

S. D. Wallace 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

John Cowan 
John Wooster 
A. M. Waddell 
William C. Lord 

R, W. Brown 
George W. Davis 
J. W. K. Dix 
John C. Latta 
Isaac Northrop 
Zeno H. Green 
Jacob Lyon 
James Wilson 

S. P. Watters 
Walker Meares 
Talcott Burr, jr. 

James T. Miller 
Alexander Sprunt 

Rt. Rev. Bishop Atkinson 

Cyrus S. Van Amringe 

H. R. Savage 

Daniel B. Baker 

N. N. Nixon 

Daniel L. Russell 

R. H. Cowan 

John A. Taylor 

Rev. Dr. R. B. Drane 

Dougald McMillan 

Samuel Davis 

W. S. Anderson 

Eli W. Hall 

William MacRae 

W. L. Smith 

Thomas L. Colville 

John C. Bailey 

James M. Stevenson 

James Dawson 

Robert B. Wood 

George R. French 

A. L. Price 
John L. Holmes 
M. London 
John C. Heyer 

E. A. Keith 

F. J. Lord 

T. D. Love 
Rev. M. B. Grier 

Rev. Charles F. Deems, D.D. 
Joseph Price 

G. H. Kelly 
Henry Flanner 
W. P. Elliott 
M. M. Kattz 

L. B. Huggins 
William G. Fowler 
L. Vollers 
Edward Savage 
A. H. Cutts 
G. A. Peck 
Hugh Waddell 
James A. Willard 
W. H. Lippitt 
Junius D. Gardner 
John Judge 
James Fulton 
Thomas Loring 
William B. Giles 
Richard A. Bradley 
William N. Peden 
Gaston Meares 
Joseph S. Murphy 
William Reston 
John Reston 
John Colville 
William Watters 
A. A. Willard 

And last, but not least, mine host, J ack Bishop, who kept the 
Pilot House on the wharf and furnished the best table fare in 
Wilmington to a large number of merchants, master mariners, 
and pilots at very moderate prices — he whose breadth of beam 
and suggestive sign combined to make him known as “Paunch- 
ous Pilot” — and his genial neighbor at the foot of Dock Street, 
Jimmie Baxter, who always wore a battered beaver hat, regard- 
less of corresponding conventionalities of dress, and with his 
brother Barney supplied the ships with pantry stores. 

Early Years 


Some of us still remember Jimmie Baxter’s kindly salutation 
with its warning for the day : “And if ye meet the Divil in the 
way, don’t shtop to shake hands wid him.” 


In June, 1851, the topsail schooner Gallatin , of the United 
States Coast Survey, appeared off the Main Bar and sailed into 
the quiet harbor of Smithville, the base of operations. 

She was commanded by Lieutenant Commanding John New- 
land Maffitt, United States Navy, and the six lieutenants under 
him included several who rose to the rank of commander, and 
one to the distinction of admiral in the United States Navy. 
Three of them were subsequently distinguished in the annals of 
the Cape Fear: Maffitt, the daring commander of the Confed- 
erate States Corvette Florida ; J. Pembroke Jones, commander 
of the Confederate States Ram Raleigh , and subsequently com- 
mander of other vessels of war, and, finally, a prominent officer 
in the naval service of the Argentine Republic; and Lieut. 
Charles P. Bolles, a master in the art of triangulation and 
topography, whose name with that of Maffitt appears upon all 
the old charts of the Cape Fear. 

Professor Bache, the eminent superintendent of the Coast 
Survey at Washington, in his official reports to Secretary Cor- 
win, makes frequent reference to the valuable services of Lieu- 
tenant Commanding Maffitt, who had charge of the hydrography 
in this section of the Atlantic coast. In one report he says : 
“Lieutenant Commanding J. N. Maffitt, United States Navy, 
assistant in the Coast Survey, in command of the schooner 
Gallatin , has executed the soundings of the bar of the Cape 
Fear River, commencing at the most southern point of Cape 
Fear, extending at a distance of from two and a half to three 
and a half miles from shore to the northward and westward, 
including the Main Bar, middle ground, and Western Bar, the 
river up to New Inlet, that bar, and Sheep’s Head Ledge.” 

In the execution of this work 25,688 soundings were made, 
18,010 angles measured, and 389 miles of soundings run; 
thirty-five specimens of bottoms were preserved, and fifteen ob- 
servations of currents made. After this work was completed, 
Lieutenant Maffitt proceeded to make a hydrographic reconnais- 

202 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

sance of the New River bars and of the river above the obstruc- 
tions. In making this reconnaissance, 5,870 soundings were 
made, 481 angles measured, and fifty miles of soundings run. 

With reference to the social life of these gentlemen, Mrs. 
Maffitt says : “When Lieutenant Maffitt visited Smithville its 

citizens were composed of the best people in the Cape Fear 
region. Its residences, generally deserted in the winter months, 
were filled during the summer and early fall with the elite of 
Wilmington society, then in its zenith of culture, refinement, 
and that open and profuse hospitality for which it has from 
early colonial times been distinguished. The officers of the 
Coast Survey and their families were domiciled at the barracks 
in the garrison grounds. The residents opened their hearts and 
homes to them and vied with each other in rendering their stay 
a pleasant one. 

“Like most small communities having few interests outside 
of themselves, there was at times a tendency to indulge in un- 
pleasant gossip, and in order to quell this by giving a new 
source of interest, Lieutenant Maffitt proposed organizing a 
dramatic company; and, to insure the actors against unkind 
criticism of amateurs, he made it a condition of entrance to the 
plays that all who desired to witness the performance should 
sign their names as members of the company before receiving 
their tickets. And this proved a perfect success.” 

Dr. W. G. Curtis says : “The old residents of Smithville, 

before the season was over, gave this troupe the credit of driv- 
ing out the gossips or closing their lips. In a word, the whole 
society became a mutual admiration society. Harmony pre- 
vailed everywhere. Sermons were preached every Sunday at 
the chapel and the services were well attended; but the mem- 
bers of the church often said that the good feeling of all the 
attendants, brought about by our troupe, put them in a better 
frame of mind to listen to the teachings from the pulpit.” 

Of Captain Maffitt of the Confederacy much has been written. 
Of this intrepid commander, it was said by a distinguished 
visitor in 1868 : “Amongst the many interesting men I met at 

Wilmington was the well known Captain Maffitt, whose adven- 
turous career upon the high seas, as commander of the Florida , 
excited so much attention at the time. 

“I found the captain a cultivated and gentlemanly man, 
small-sized and spare in figure, hut with a finely-cast head, a 
dark, keen eye, a strong tuft of black whiskers on his chin, and 

Early Years 


a firm little mouth that seemed to express the energy and de- 
termination of his character. I remember very well his digni- 
fied appearance as he stepped about in his short military cloak, 
with his keen and somewhat stern look. He was in reduced 
circumstances, having staked his whole fortune and position 
upon the Lost Cause ; hut, like so many of his old military and 
naval associates, he was trying his hand at business and striving 
to reconcile himself to the new order of things.” 

In The Life and Services of this remarkable man of the Cape 
Fear, his gifted widow, Mrs. Emma Martin Maffitt, has con- 
tributed to our history a volume of intensely interesting and 
instructive literature. 

Well may we say of him, as was said of the gallant Hey, 
“He was the bravest of the brave.” 


I am informed by Mr. Joseph Hyde Pratt, State geologist, 
that coal was found in two sections of our State, one in Chat- 
ham and Moore Counties, the other in Stokes County. 

Mining was done on the deposits of Chatham and Moore 
Counties, and for many years a small amount of coal was gotten 
out; hut the industry was not profitable because the coal basin 
is not extensive. The seams are thin; and the few wider ones 
are cut up with slate, and so mixed with sulphur that the qual- 
ity has always been bad. 

The use of this North Carolina coal during the War between 
the States led to the capture of several fine blockade-running 
steamers, whose supply of Welsh coal had been seized by the 
Confederate officials and “Egypt” coal substituted. This was 
so worthless that it was impossible to raise and keep steam, 
and consequently these unfortunate and valuable ships fell an 
easy prey to the Federal cruisers. 

With reference to my further inquiries on this subject, Dr. 
Joseph Austin Holmes, late director of the Bureau of Mines at 
Washington, says: “Coal was opened up between 1855 and 

1858 in Chatham County at a place called Egypt, under the 
advice of Dr. Ehenezer Emmons, then State geologist. The 
coal was at that time regarded as of considerable promise. 

“During the year 1858 an examination was made of the Deep 
River region, one of the principal tributaries of the Cape Fear, 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

by Captain Wilkes and other officers of the United States Navy, 
in compliance with a Senate resolution adopted on April 13, 
1858. As a result of this investigation, and in a report pub- 
lished as an executive document early in 1859, Captain Wilkes 
and his associates reported favorably on the proposition that the 
Deep River region was a suitable one for the establishment of 
foundries and other plants for the production of naval ordnance 
and supplies.” 

Captain Wilkes made the following statement in regard to 
the coal : 

“It is a shining and clean coal, resembling the best specimens 
of Cumberland (Md.). It ignites easily, and burns with a 
bright, clear combustion, and leaves a very little purplish-grey 
ash. It is a desirable coal for blacksmiths’ use, for the parlor, 
and superior to most coals for the production of gas, for which 
it is likely to be in great demand. Its freedom from sulphur is 
another of its recommendations.” 

These favorable preliminary reports by Captain Wilkes of 
the ISTavy Department, and Dr. Emmons, the State geologist 
of ETorth Carolina, awakened considerable interest in the devel- 
opment of this coal. But it was found in subsequent operations 
that the coal, as mined, generally contained a considerable 
quantity of slate and other black earthy material, that its ash 
formed a slag on the grate bars, and that it contained no little 
sulphur. This composition made it a rather difficult coal to use 
in ordinary furnaces. But during the war, it was extensively 
used to make coke for the iron works established in the Deep 
River region. It was also used as a steam coal; but its use on 
board blockade runners and other ships was found highly objec- 
tionable, both on account of the poor quality of the coal and the 
smoke which resulted from its use. 

At intervals between 1870 and 1900 the shaft at the Egypt 
coal mine (about 465 feet deep) was again opened and the 
mine worked on a small scale, the coal being shipped to Raleigh, 
Fayetteville, and other local markets; but it never became a 
good merchantable coal, and its use remained limited and local. 

Besides, the coal itself gave off in the mine considerable 
quantities of explosive gas, and there were several bad explo- 
sions, one of which, in December, 1895, killed thirty-nine men, 
and another, in May, 1900, killed twenty-three men. The 
operating company was much discouraged by these disasters, 
and the mine was closed. 

Early Years 


There is probably a considerable quantity of coal still to be 
obtained in tbe vicinity of the old Egypt mine, and if the mine 
were worked with modern safety precautions, to prevent dis- 
astrous explosions, and tbe coal were washed so as to remove the 
dirt, it would be found to be a fairly satisfactory fuel. If 
briquetted (as is frequently done in European countries), it 
would be both suitable and available for domestic use in tbe 
adjacent markets. 

The formation in which this coal occurs extends from the 
South Carolina line northward to near Oxford in Granville 
County, its greatest width being from twelve to fifteen miles. 
At different points in this formation there are beds of sand- 
stone available for building purposes; but the workable coal 
seems to be limited to a few thousand acres in that part of Chat- 
ham County near the old hamlet of Egypt, formerly known as 
the “Gulf,” but which during the past few years has been called 


Known as Cross Creek and Campbellton up to 1184, the 
name of this interesting old town was then changed to Fayette- 
ville, in tribute to the services of the Marquis de Lafayette, who 
visited Fayetteville in 1824. 

The people of Fayetteville, between whom and the people of 
Wilmington there have been for a hundred years the most cor- 
dial social and business relations, were ever as thrifty and enter- 
prising as hospitable and cultured. They were among the first in 
the State to establish cotton factories ; and, being at the head of 
water transportation and having an extensive system of plank 
roads into the interior, Fayetteville was the great mart of trade 
in Horth Carolina, especially for the extensive country lying 
west to the Blue Ridge, and even for the transmontane country 
comprising parts of East Tennessee and Southwest Virginia. 
This trade was carried on by canvas-topped wagons as vehicles 
of transportation, drawn by two, four, and even six horses, for 
mules in those days were seldom employed. Said Mr. J. H. 
Myrover, the historian of F ayetteville : 

“The starting point of all this vast back-country carrying 
trade was the wharves and Water Street in Wilmington, though 
in the early part of the last century wagoning was done by 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

stages, or relays, between Fayetteville and Philadelphia, before 
the first steamer was put on the Cape Fear. Among the pio- 
neers of steamboat building and operating on the Cape Fear 
River, though perhaps not the first, was Mr. Seawell. One of 
the first boats to ply the stream bore the same name as one of 
the last — the City of Fayetteville. It was launched not far 
from the Clarendon Bridge, and it has been related that some 
one having prophesied that it would ‘turn turtle’ when it 
reached the water, the architect boldly rode its bow as it slipped 
off the ways, and the event justified his faith in his work. 

“It is impossible, with the lapse of time, to enumerate all the 
craft that formed the Cape Fear merchant marine. The Henri- 
etta , Fanny Lutterloh , Cotton Plant , Zephyr , Magnolia , Halcyon , 
Governor Worth , North State , A. P. Hurt , D. Murchison , and 
R. E. Lee are recalled as leading among the passenger and 
freight steamers from the thirties up to and for some time 
after the War between the States. Equally impossible would 
it be to give the names and record of the services of the faithful 

“Notable commanders in the history of Cape Fear navigation 
were Captains John P. Stedman, who lost his life by the ex- 
plosion of the boiler of the Fanny Lutterloh , Rush, A. P. Hurt, 
after whom a steamer was named, Phillips, Skinner, Green, 
Worth, Smith, Garrason. The captain’s rule on board was 
autocratic but patriarchal. He sat at the head of the table and 
served the passengers as the father of a family would his chil- 
dren. The fare was plain but wholesome and abundant, and, 
with good weather and a fair depth of water, the trip between 
Fayetteville and Wilmington was very pleasant. The river 
goes on its way to the sea with many a wind and bend, its 
banks steep and heavily* wooded, the wild grape climbing the 
tall trees, and the wild jasmine and flowering honeysuckle giv- 
ing forth their fragrance. Those veteran captains knew the 
river well and most of the people on either bank clear to Wil- 
mington; the pilots, many of whom were negroes, knew every 
crook and eddy of the stream. Han Buxton, an esteemed colored 
man of this city, has a record of fifty years faithful service as 
a pilot on the Cape Fear. The late Col. Thomas S. Lutterloh, 
always a large boat owner, is said to have been the first Cum- 
berland man to become sole owner of a steamer on the river. 
Many of the business men of Fayetteville and Wilmington were 
stockholders in these boat lines. 

Early Years 


“The oldest inhabitants still look back on those times as the 
‘good old days’ of Fayetteville. The merchants were not the 
progressive men of the 20th century; they were conservative 
and cautious and honest as the day, with their word as bond. 
They made money slowly, but they lived simply, and gradually 
accumulated modest fortunes.” 

Mr. Myrover overlooked in his sketch a very prominent Cape 
Fear mariner, who, during his long and useful career, com- 
manded successively the well-known river steamers Henrietta , 
Brothers , Scottish Chief , James B. Crist, James T. Petteway, 
and John Dawson. A hearty, genial, bright-eyed Scotsman 
of superior attainments was Capt. John Banks, in some respects 
the most notable of all the river captains. He was a highly 
esteemed citizen of Wilmington and he owned a valuable resi- 
dence on the corner of Market and Seventh Streets, where he 
reared an interesting family, several members still surviving. 
Other commanders were Capt. James Barry, of the A. P. Hurt ; 
Captain Driver of the Flora Macdonald ; Capt. Roderick Mac- 
Rae, of the Rowan; Captain Stedman, of the Kate McLaurin; 
Capt. Jesse Dicksey, of the Black River; Captain Peck, of the 
Nellie Hart, and Captain Jones, of the Enterprise. There were 
two other boats, the North Carolina and the T. S. Lutterloh, 
the names of whose commanders I have forgotten. 

United States Minister E. J. Hale says : 

“From the close of the Revolution and up to the building of 
the Wilmington and Raleigh [Weldon] Railroad and the Ra- 
leigh and Gaston Railroad (about 1838), the great mail stage 
lines from the North to the South passed through Fayetteville. 
There were four daily lines of four-horse post and passenger 
coaches to Raleigh, Norfolk, Charleston, and Columbia; and, 
in addition, two tri- weekly lines to Hew Bern and Salisbury. 

“The Legislature sat in Fayetteville in 1788, 1789, 1790, 
and 1793. At the convention at Hillsborough in 1788, called to 
deliberate on the acceptance or rejection of the United States 
Constitution, Fayetteville failed to secure the location of the 
permanent capital by one vote, that of Timothy Bloodworth, of 
New Hanover, who subsequently was elected to the United 
States Senate. The ordinance adopted fixed the location of the 
capital on Joel Lane’s plantation in Wake, on the ground that 
this point was nearer the centre of the State than Fayetteville.” 

Notable Incidents 


“Wilmington, 77 said Iredell Meares, Esq., in an interesting 
pamphlet, “has been honored by the visits of five of the Presi- 
dents of the United States — Washington, Monroe, Polk, Fill- 
more, and Taft. 77 We may now add the name of Wilson, who, 
as stated elsewhere, once lived in Wilmington. 

General Washington, in 1791, made a tonr of the South- 
ern States. One of his biographers relates that “no royal prog- 
ress in any country ever equaled this tour in its demonstrations 
of veneration and respect. 77 His visit to Wilmington was pre- 
served in the traditions of the people for many years. The old 
folks used to tell of its incidents, and the ladies of “ye olden 
times 77 of an elaborate hall given in his honor. In the posses- 
sion of Mr. Clayton Giles, of this city, is a letter in excellent 
state of preservation giving some account of this interesting in- 
cident. It was written by Mrs. Jane Anna Simpson to her 
sister on the day of the reception, and is dated the “25th April, 
1791. 77 The letter, among other things, says: 

“Great doings this day. General Washington arrived yester- 
day. The Light Horse went to meet him. The artillery were 
ready to receive him with a round from the batteries, four guns. 
This day he dines with the Gentlemen of the town; in the even- 
ing a grand ball and illumination ; tomorrow takes his leave. I 
believe the Light Horse are to escort him a day’s journey on 
his way to Chas’ton. 

“Half-past four — just going to dinner — cannons firing; 
Chrissy and the children all gone to see the procession. I don’t 
go to the ball this evening, as Mary can not accompany me. 
She desires me to ask if you have many beaux at the Marsh. 
Adieu. I must get the candles. 

“Mrs. Quince has given up her house to the General and she 
stays with our uncles. * * *” 

The place at which the Light Horse met General Washington 
was at the House House, about fifteen miles out on the Hew 

[ 208 ] 

Notable Incidents 


Bern Road. Here was fought, during the Revolutionary War 
a small battle between the Patriots and the English forces under 
the command of Major Craig. It is described as a massacre by 
the historian Caruthers, for Craig gave no quarter and killed 
every one of the Patriots, who were overwhelmed by numbers, 
save one hoy, who escaped. 

It is a tradition handed down by the old folks that upon the 
occasion of General Washington’s visit to the residence of 
General Smith, at his plantation Belvidere, which is situated 
across the river in Brunswick County, he was met at the river 
landing by a group of thirteen young ladies, all dressed in white 
and representing the thirteen colonies, who preceded him up 
the avenue of old trees leading from the river to the brick resi- 
dence, bestrewing his path with flowers as he approached. 

The hall which was given to him by the people of Wilming- 
ton was held in what was then known as the Assembly Hall, also 
called “Old ’76,” because of having been built in 1776. In 
time it was used as a sailor boarding-house, and was subse- 
quently taken down in 1876 to make way for the present build- 
ing. It stood on Front Street, east side, between Orange and 
Ann Streets, where now stands a two-story brick tenement house. 

‘Wilmington,” wrote President Washington in his diary, 
“has some good houses, pretty compactly built — the whole 
under a hill, which is formed entirely of sand. The number 
of souls in it amount by enumeration to about 1,000. 

“Wilmington, unfortunately for it, has a mud bank — miles 
below, over which not more than ten feet of water can be 
brought at common tides. Yet it is said vessels of 250 tons 
have come up. The quantity of shipping which loads here an- 
nually amounts to about 12,000 tons. Exports are Haval stores 
and lumber ; some tobacco, corn, rice, and flax seed and pork.” 

“Monday, 25th. Dined with the citizens of the place — went 
to a Ball in the evening at which there were 62 ladies — illumi- 
nations, bonfires, &&.” 

James Moxroe, the fifth President of the United States, 
visited Wilmington on the 12th day of April, 1819. 

In an old copy of the Raleigh Minerva , bearing date April 
23, 1819, we find a letter from Wilmington, giving an account 
of the visit of President Monroe and his suite : 

“The Presidential cortege was met about twelve miles from 
town, on the old Hew Bern Road, somewhere near Scott’s Hill, 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

and escorted into the city by the Wilmington Light Horse, a 
volunteer organization, under the command of Colonel Cowan. 
The entrance into the town was made on Market Street, the 
boundary being on Fifth. They then proceeded down Market 
to Front and up Front to the Wilmington Hotel, where the 
usual formalities of a grand reception were tendered to the 

“His Excellency was the guest, while here, of Robert Coch- 
ran, Esq., who resided on Second Street, between Chestnut and 
Mulberry; and John C. Calhoun, the Secretary of War, and his 
Lady, received the hospitalities of Hr. A. J. DeRosset, sr., at 
the brick house standing on the corner of Market and Third 
Streets. It was on Thursday that the President arrived here, 
and on Friday, accompanied by Judge Murphey, he paid a visit 
to Wrightsville. On his return he partook of a dinner with the 
citizens at the Wilmington Hotel and the next day left this 
place on the steamer Prometheus for Fort Johnston, from 
whence he proceeded immediately to Georgetown, S. C.” 

At the dinner given in his honor, Hanson Kelly, Esq., pre- 
sided, assisted by Robert Cochran, Esq. The former was magis- 
trate of police (now the office of mayor), and the latter was the 
collector of customs for the district of Cape Fear. There were 
a number of patriotic toasts drunk, the list being published in 
the papers of the day, and among those who responded were the 
President, Hon. John C. Calhoun, J. R. London, Esq., Gen. 
James Owen, Judge Archibald Murphey, Colonel Cleary, 
Robert Cochran, Esq., John H. Jones, Esq., Gen. Thomas 
Havis, William B. Meares, Esq., and Alfred Moore, Esq., all 
prominent citizens of the Cape Fear in that day and time. 

In a formal letter addressed to the President by Hanson 
Kelly, Esq., on behalf of the citizens, occurs this sentiment : 
“Events, the most propitious, have rendered your administra- 
tion an epoch of national security and aggrandizement. The 
united voice of your country, from Maine to Mexico, proclaim 
the wisdom of councils honorable to you; and in their result, 
glorious to our extended empire.” To this letter, the President 
responded, as follows: 

Sir: On the principle on which I have thought it proper to visit our 

Atlantic frontier, this town, with its relation to the ocean, had a just 
claim to attention. It was always my intention to visit it when I 
should be able to examine the Southern coast; and I am much gratified 
in having done it, as, in addition to the satisfaction of having per- 

Notable Incidents 


formed an interesting part of my public duty, it has afforded me an 
opportunity of becoming acquainted with a portion of my fellow- 
citizens, whose kind reception and obliging attention I shall always 
recollect with great interest. To secure you in peace, and all the 
advantages in commerce which a kind Providence has enabled you to 
enjoy, and all the protection in war, to which your situation may ex- 
pose you, are objects which will never fail to receive the unwearied at- 
tention of the General Government in all its branches, according to 
their respective powers. On my exertions, in those concerns which fall 
within the department which I have the honor to fill, you may con- 
fidently rely. In the late event to which you allude, I concur in all 
the favorable anticipations which you have suggested of its happy 
effects on the best interests of our country. In contemplating this 
epoch we must all derive peculiar satisfaction from the reflection 
that it was the result of an arrangement by which our differences were 
settled with a friendly power, and our peace secured against the pros- 
pect of early interruption, on conditions equally honorable to both 

Should I be able by my future conduct in the public service to carry 
with me into retirement the same favorable opinion of my fellow- 
citizens which you have kindly expressed of the past, it will afford me 
the high consolation to which I have invariably aspired. 

James Monroe. 

James K. Poek, the eleventh President of the United States, 
just after his retirement, visited Wilmington, upon invitation 
of its citizens. The files of the newspapers published here at 
the time, which will be found in the Wilmington Public Lib- 
rary, contain reports of his reception. From the Commercial , 
issue of Thursday, March 8, 1849, we clip this mention of his 
visit : 

“The ex-President, Mr. Polk, and Lady and ISTiece, together 
with Mr. Secretary Walker and Niece, and Mr. Grahame, solic- 
itor of the Treasury, and Lady, reached our town at 10 o’clock 
yesterday morning. Their arrival was heralded by the boom- 
ing of cannon, the ringing of bells, and the floating aloft of ban- 
ners and streamers from stalls, housetops, and mastheads. The 
magistrate of police, Col. James T. Miller, the Committee of 
Arrangements, and a large concourse of citizens were ready at 
the railroad to receive the ex-President and suite, and they were 
greeted by Colonel Miller in a brief and cordial address, to 
which the ex-President warmly responded. The whole suite 
was then escorted, according to the program heretofore pub- 
lished, to Mrs. Swann’s boarding-house, on the balcony of which, 
in view and hearing of the assembled crowd, Mr. William Hill 
welcomed the ex-President and suite in a cordial, chaste, and 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

eloquent address, during which he alluded to the birth and 
education of the ex-President in North Carolina, and to many 
of the leading measures of his administration. Mr. Polk’s re- 
sponse was feeling and patriotic. He fondly acknowledged his 
attachment to North Carolina, and the gratification which it 
gave him to receive from the archives, and to transmit to our 
State Executive, the recorded evidence of the early disloyalty 
and independent resolves of different portions of North Caro- 
lina. He spoke of the inestimable value of our Union, and of 
the bright destiny in store for our country, provided we shall 
adhere to this glorious Union, and the teachings of the Father 
of the Republic. When he had closed, General Marstellar an- 
nounced to the crowd that at 12 o’clock Mr. Polk and suite 
would be happy to see their fellow-citizens at the Masonic Hall. 
And, accordingly, at that hour, hundreds repaired thither and 
offered their salutations to our distinguished guests.” 

Mileaed Eillmoee, the thirteenth President of the United 
States, after his retirement, visited Wilmington on the 12th 
day of May, 1854. He had contemplated a tour of the South 
in 1853, and on March 10, 1853, the citizens of the town met 
and passed the following resolution: 

Resolved, That a Committee of twenty-four persons, and the magis- 
trate of police, be appointed to correspond with Millard Fillmore, late 
President of the United States, and such of the members of his late 
cabinet as may accompany him on his projected visit to the South, 
and tender to him and to them the hospitalities of our town. 

Under this resolution the following gentlemen were ap- 
pointed: Talcott Burr, jr., John L. Holmes, William A. 

Wright, William C. Bettencourt, R. H. Cowan, R. H. Beery, 
George Davis, S. J. Person, James S. Green, John Walker, 
John MacRae, R. Strange, jr., J. G. Wright, Gaston Meares, 
E. Kidder, S. D. Wallace, A. A. Brown, E. W. Hall, D. Dupre, 
Miles Costin, J. J. Lippitt, P. M. Walker, 0. P. Meares, and 
J. T. Miller. 

A sub-committee consisting of Messrs. James S. Green, John 
L. Meares, S. J. Person, and Adam Empie, jr., were appointed 
to go to Richmond and tender the hospitalities of the town to 
the ex-President, who was supposed to he on a visit there at the 
time, and to his suite. The death of Mrs. Fillmore caused the 
postponement of Mr. Fillmore’s tour in the South that year, 
hut in 1854 he fulfilled his desire to make such a tour, with the 

Notable Incidents 


assurance to the public that he “earnestly wished to avoid the 
pomp and pageantry of a public reception.’ 7 In the Daily Jour- 
nal , issue of Friday, May 12, 1854, the files of which are in the 
local library, is an account of the ex-President’s visit, as 
follows : 

“Ex-President Fillmore, of Hew York, and Mr. Kennedy, of 
Maryland, Secretary of the Mavy under his administration, ar- 
rived here this morning on the Manchester cars from Columbia. 
A very large number of our citizens of both parties have called 
upon our distinguished visitors at their rooms at Mr. Holmes’s 
hotel [now a store, southeast corner Market and Front Streets]. 
Owing to the illness of Mrs. Kennedy they are anxious to reach 
Baltimore at the earliest possible moment, and are thus com- 
pelled to leave for the Horth by the 2 o’clock train. In accord- 
ance with the earnest wish of the people, Mr. Fillmore had de- 
signed to make a short address from the balcony of the hotel at 
11 o’clock, but, in consequence of the rain, his intention could 
not be carried out. We are pleased to see both gentlemen appar- 
ently in the enjoyment of high health and spirits. Mr. Fillmore 
is certainly a gentleman of exceedingly prepossessing appearance 
and manners; and bears little evidence of the cares of state 
having pressed heavily upon him. 


The happy occasion of a visit by Henry Clay to Wilmington 
while he was canvassing the South during his presidential cam- 
paign in 1844, is described by the Wilmington Chronicle as 

follows: . ., 0 .... 

April 3, 1844. 

The Committee of Arrangement for the reception and enter- 
tainment of our distinguished fellow-citizen, Henry Clay, who 
in compliance with the invitation of the citizens of this town is 
expected to visit us on Tuesday, the 9th of April, 1844, have 
adopted the following measures : 

[Here follows an elaborate program.] 

The following gentlemen are appointed marshals of the day, 
viz. : 0. G. Parsley, Thomas W. Brown, G. B. Alsaps, James 
Anderson, George W. Davis, James F. McKee, jr., John L. 
Meares, Hathaniel Hill. 

The following gentlemen compose the accompanying commit- 

214 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

tee to wait on Mr. Clay from Charleston, viz. : J ames Owen, 
John MacRae, Dr. Thomas H. Wright, Gen. Alexander Mac- 
Rae, Gilbert Potter, P. C. Hill, Asa A. Brown, William A. 
Wright, A. J. DeRosset, jr., George Davis, R. G. Rankin, Por- 
ter Strode, Thomas Sanford. 

The following gentlemen have been appointed to act as man- 
agers of the hall: R. W. Brown, Edward B. Dudley, P. K. 

Dickinson, James S. Green, G. J. McRee, M. London, James H. 
Dickson, Thomas D. Meares, John Hall, and Nathaniel Hill. 

April 10, 1844. 

Me. Clay in Wilmington. 

The publication of the Chronicle has been delayed a day to 
enable us to give some account of the reception and entertain- 
ment of Mr. Clay in Wilmington, where he arrived yesterday 

On Tuesday afternoon between three and four o’clock, the 
Committee of Thirteen deputed by the Clay Club to wait upon 
Mr. Clay at Charleston and escort him to this town, received 
him on hoard the fine steamer Gladiator , Captain Smith. The 
steamer had quite a pleasant night for the run, and reached 
Smithville about sunrise. Mr. Clay was there welcomed to the 
State by the Committee of Ten, consisting of the chairman of 
the Whig Central Committee and one gentleman from each of 
the nine congressional districts. After an hour’s delay at 
Smithville the steamer was again in motion, and reached here 
at the time named above. From a point three or four miles 
below town until the boat touched the wharf, a piece of ordnance 
on hoard was fired at regular intervals and the reports were 
answered from numerous other pieces of artillery stationed at 
various places along the river. The steamer came to on the 
south side of Market Dock. Here an immense throng had 
gathered to greet the distinguished man, and as soon as the boat 
touched the wharf there were repeated hursts of the people’s 
welcome. Mr. Clay was then introduced to the Committee of 
Arrangements, and, a procession having formed in the pre- 
scribed order, he was escorted to his private lodgings at the resi- 
dence of Mrs. Joseph A. Hill, southeast corner of Front and 
Dock Streets. 

At 11 o’clock Mr. Clay, accompanied by the Clay Club, com- 
mittees, and citizens, repaired to the new and commodious man- 

Notable Incidents 


sion of Capt. Samuel Potter, on Market Street. Here, upon the 
balcony of the house facing Market Street, he was addressed in 
a most appropriate manner by ex-Governor Dudley, the presi- 
dent of the Clay Club. The address referred to the long and 
arduous public services of Mr. Clay, the great debt of gratitude 
the country justly owes him, the strong interest and regard the 
people throughout the Union have manifested for him on 
numerous occasions, the warm affection entertained for him by 
so large a portion of the citizens of North Carolina, and ap- 
pealed to the multitude of upturned faces as furnished evidence 
that “Welcome to Henry Clay” were the words then gushing 
spontaneously from the hearts of thousands. Mr. Clay made 
only a short reply, not exceeding twenty minutes in length. 

He said he had long looked forward to this visit to North 
Carolina (which he had promised to make when a fitting op- 
portunity should occur) with a pleasing hope, and now having 
set foot upon her soil for the first time, his fondest anticipations 
were in course of being realized, and the event would form an 
epoch in his life. He had for many years wished to visit the 
State, and the repeated invitations formed motives of still 
weightier influence. 

He utterly disclaimed all electioneering designs or selfish 
purposes pertaining to his journey. He was traveling on busi- 
ness and to enjoy the hospitality of his friends; the people had 
tendered him unexpected civilities, which he could not without 
rudeness decline. He had also been brought out on political 
topics, and had not hesitated to declare his sentiments, as be- 
came an American citizen. 

He glanced at the two principal parties of the country, ex- 
pressing his conviction that both of them are in the main gov- 
erned by honest views. Men, he said, should act with that party 
in whose principles they found the least to condemn, after hav- 
ing given them a thorough examination. None could expect to 
find in any party everything exactly as they would have it; 
small defects must he overlooked, as are those which a man dis- 
covers, perchance, in the woman of his admiration. He had at- 
tached himself to the Whig party as the result of his investiga- 
tions of the great principles of its existence. But every man, he 
said, should hold party fealty as subordinate to that due his 
country. Properly, parties were hut instruments for promoting 
our country’s good. 

Mr. Clay excused himself for the briefness of his discourse 

216 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

by reference to the fatiguing circumstances of his journey thus 

The view below and around the place where Mr. Clay stood 
was striking beyond any effort of ours to portray. The wide 
street, for a considerable distance on either hand, was one dense 
mass of human beings, whilst the balconies, windows, etc., were 
crowded with ladies, all eager listeners to the words of the great 
statesman of the West. Never was such a scene, or anything 
approaching to it, witnessed in Wilmington. 

His speech ended, Mr. Clay entered the reception room, and 
was then introduced to a rushing tide of people, made up of 
both sexes and all ages and conditions. He remained in the re- 
ception rooms until one o’clock, and then retired to his lodgings. 

At two o’clock a most bountiful collation, prepared by Mr. 
Keith, was spread out on tables in the open space south of Mr. 
John Walker’s house on Princess Street, to which a general in- 
vitation had been given, and of which hundreds partook. Mr. 
Clay was not present, desiring to have a few hours’ rest. The 
company was, however, highly gratified with able and instruc- 
tive speeches from Hon. A. H. Stephens, member of Congress 
from Georgia, who being on his way to Washington was in- 
duced to remain over a day; Col. William W. Cherry, of Bertie, 
an orator of surpassing eloquence ; Col. B. P. Gaither, of Burke, 
and others. Mr. Stephens well sustained the reputation which 
had preceded him of being an eloquent, humorous, and effective 

At night there was a superb ball and party at the Carolina 
Hotel and Masonic Hall — all the rooms being connected for 
the occasion. The whole affair was got up under the superin- 
tendency of ladies of Wilmington. It could not, therefore, but 
be an elegant one. The rooms were beautifully decorated, the 
refreshments choice, the supper in refined taste and order, the 
music inspiring, and a hilarious spirit reigned throughout the 
well-filled apartments. How many hours of the morning heard 
the festive strains we do not exactly know and will not hazard a 
conjecture. In the course of the evening Mr. Clay visited the 
place of gaiety and remained a couple of hours or so. 

Between seven and eight this morning Mr. Clay took his de- 
parture for Baleigh, by way of the railroad, cheered by many, 
many, newly-awakened and newly-born wishes for his welfare. 

We have thus sketched a meagre outline of Mr. Clay’s visit 
to Wilmington. The glowing lines of the picture the reader’s 

Notable Incidents 


imagination must supply. The enthusiasm, the kindly feeling, 
the generous good will, all these are to be supposed, for they 
were all exhibited in an eminent degree. 

There was a very great concourse of strangers in town from 
this and the neighboring counties, Fayetteville, and other parts 
of the State, who aided us in doing honor to our venerable and 
beloved guest. 


Early in May, 1847, Daniel Webster visited Wilmington as 
the guest of Gov. Edward B. Dudley. In an old book contain- 
ing the private correspondence of Mr. Webster I found a letter 
by him dated Wilmington, May 6, 1847, as follows: 

“At one o’clock yesterday, ten miles from this city, we met a 
special train, with a large deputation, headed by ex-Governor 
Dudley. The weather was bad, and the wind east, and I was 
rather easily persuaded to stay over a day. The Governor 
brought us to his own home, where we were grandly lodged. I 
go to the hotel to meet the citizens at 11 o’clock, and go off at 
half -past two this p. m., if the wind goes down. At present it 
blows rather hard. This is an active little city, built on the east 
side of the river, on sand-hills. The good people are Whigs, but 
out of the city, and all around for fifty miles, it is a region 
whose politics are personified by Mr. McKay. 

“There is a thing, Harry, which thou hast often heard of, and 
it is known to many in this land by the name of pitch , etc., etc. 
We are here in the midst of this very thing, at the very center 
of the tar and turpentine region. The pines are long-leaved 
pines. In one of these, a foot from the bottom, a notch is cut, 
and its capacity enlarged and its shape fashioned a little, so as 
to hold the liquid, by chiseling, and then it is called the Fox.’ 
Above the box the bark is cut off, for a foot or so, and the turpen- 
tine oozes out of the tree on to this smooth surface, and then 
runs slowly into the box. The box holds about a quart. In a 
good large tree it will fill five times a season. Sometimes there 
are two boxes in one tree, so that some trees will yield ten 
quarts a year. But the greatest yield is the first year ; after that 
it is gradually diminished, and in seven or eight years the tree 
dies, or will yield no more turpentine. Tar is made by bring- 
ing together wood full of turpentine, either trees or knots, and 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear Fiver 

pieces picked up in the woods, and burning it in a pit, just as 
charcoal is made, then running it off into a hole prepared for it 
in the ground. At the present price of the article, this is said 
to he the best business now doing in the State. I am told good, 
fresh, well-timbered pine lands can he bought for $1.25 to $1.50 
per acre. 

“One barrel of turpentine distilled makes six gallons of 
spirits. The residuum, or resin, is not of much value, say 
twenty-five cents a barrel. Tar and turpentine are now high, 
and the business is good.” 

The late Col. Thomas C. Mcllhenny, always a welcome guest 
of Governor Dudley, often entertained me by the recital of im- 
portant local events of his earlier years, and upon one occasion 
described the visit of the great Commoner while he was also a 
guest at the Governor’s mansion. The colonel said he was 
much impressed by the great size of Mr. Webster’s head and the 
powerful penetration of his searching eyes, and by his fancy for 
the Governor’s madeira, of which he kept a pipe of superior 
quality. After drinking all of the dining room supply, Mrs. 
Dudley having withdrawn, Mr. Webster laid an affectionate 
hand upon the colonel’s shoulder and said : “Young man, show 

me where the Governor keeps that wine,” and being led to the 
cellar, he greatly reduced the contents of the cask with much 
enjoyment, but apparently not altogether with satisfaction, be- 
cause he seldom knew when he had enough. 

With reference to Mr. Webster’s visit to Wilmington, the 
following from the local newspaper, the Commercial , Thursday 
morning, May 6, 1847, is quoted: 

How. Daniel Webster. 

The Hon. Daniel Webster and family arrived at this place 
yesterday in the cars at a little before 2 o’clock. 

Col. John MacRae, magistrate of police, appointed the fol- 
lowing gentlemen as a committee to meet our distinguished 
guest, and to make the necessary arrangements to entertain him 
while here: 

Governor Dudley, John D. Jones, L. H. Marsteller, Alexan- 
der MacRae, Dr. W. A. Berry, James T. Miller, Dr. F. J. Hill, 
R. W. Brown, Samuel Potter, Dr. J. H. Dickson, Gilbert Pot- 
ter, John Walker, C. D. Ellis, Thomas Boring, A. A. Brown, 
D. Fulton, R. B. Wood, J. Ballard, H. W. Beatty, J. Hatha- 

Notable Incidents 


way, H. R. Savage, W. C. Bettencourt, Dr. T. H. Wright, 
Thomas D. Meares, John A. Taylor, James S. Green, W. H. 
Peden, Owen Fennell, Miles Costin, Alfred Bryant, Dr. J. D. 
Bellamy, Samuel Black, Henry Hutt, P. K. Dickinson. 

A number of the committee started in an extra train at about 
eleven o’clock and met the regular train at Rocky Point, where 
they entered the mail train, and through Governor Dudley prof- 
fered the hospitalities of our town to Mr. Webster and his 
family. On arriving at the depot they proceeded to the resi- 
dence of Governor Dudley on the southwest corner of Front 
and Hun Streets. 

Mr. Webster will leave in the boat today for Charleston. 

At the request of the committee appointed by the magistrate 
of police, Mr. Webster will meet the citizens of Wilmington at 
the Masonic Hall this morning at eleven o’clock. 

The same paper, of May 8, 1847, contained the following: 
Mr. Webster. 

This gentleman left our place in the boat for Charleston on 
Thursday evening. The arrangements indicated in our last 
were carried out by the committee. At the Masonic Hall Mr. 
Webster made a short address to the many citizens who had 
assembled to pay their respects to him. We believe men of all 
parties were very much gratified on the occasion. 

Mention has been made to me of Mr. Webster’s appreciation 
of the excellent cooking in the South, and of his preference for 
a dish of tripe, which leads me to copy a letter on this subject, 
written in December, 1850, and addressed to his hostess at 
Richmond, Mrs. Paige. 

Dear Mrs. Paige: — I sit down to write a letter, partly diplomatic 
and partly historical. The subject is Tripe — T-R-I-P-E. Your husband 
remembers Mrs. Hayman, who was Mrs. Blake’s cook. Excelling 
others in all else, she excelled herself in a dish of tripe. I do not know 
that her general genius exceeded that of Monica McCarty; but in this 
production she was more exact, more artistical; she gave to the 
article, not only a certain gout, which gratified the most fastidious, 
but an expression, also, an air of haut ton, as it lay presented on the 
table, that assured one that he saw before him something from the 
hand of a master. 

Tradition, it is said, occasionally hands down the practical arts with 
more precision and fidelity than they can be transmitted by books, 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

from generation to generation; and I have thought it likely that your 
Lydia may have caught the tact of preparing this inimitable dish. I 
entertain this opinion on two grounds: first, because I have been 
acquainted with very respectable efforts of hers in that line; second, 
because she knows Mr. Paige’s admirable connoiseurship, and can de- 
termine, by her quick eye, when the dish comes down from the table, 
whether the contents have met his approbation. 

For these reasons, and others, upon which it is not necessary for the 
undersigned to enlarge, he is desirous of obtaining Lydia’s receipt 
for a dish of tripe, for the dinner-table. Mrs. Hayman’s is before my 
eyes. Unscathed by the frying pan, it was white as snow; it was dis- 
posed in squares, or in parallelograms, of the size of a small sheet of 
ladies’ note paper; it was tender as jelly; beside it stood the tureen 
of melted butter, a dish of mealy potatoes, and the vinegar cruet. 
Can this spectacle be exhibited in the Vine Cottage, on Louisiana 
Avenue, in the City of Washington? 

Yours truly, always, 

Dan’l Webster. 

P. S. — Tripe; the etymon is the Greek word to “turn, to wind,” from 
its involutions, not the same as “tripod,” which means “having three 
feet”; nor the same as “trip,” which is from the Latin tripudiare, to 
strike the feet upon the ground; sometimes to stumble; sometimes 
to go nimbly; to “trip it on the light fantastic toe.” 

Washington, 29 December, 1850. 


In 1859 the renowned Edward Everett delivered in hundreds 
of cities throughout the United States his splendid address on 
the Character of Washington , the receipts being for the benefit 
of the Ladies’ Mount Vernon Association. 

Of his visit to Wilmington on that occasion he wrote in his 
Mount Vernon Papers: “Its population, as far as I could judge 
from a short visit, is intelligent, enterprising, and rather more 
than usually harmonious among themselves. The river pros- 
pects from elevated positions are remarkably fine. An immense 
audience, assembled in Thalian Hall on the 11th of April last, 
honored the repetition of my address on the Character of Wash- 
ington , and the net receipts of the evening, $1,091.80, were, in 
proportion to population, far beyond those of any other place in 
the Union.” 

Mr. Everett has also been quoted as saying that at Wilming- 
ton alone, during his travels, he was introduced by an orator 
who surpassed himself, Mr. George Davis. 

Notable Incidents 


We copy an interesting account of Mr. Everett’s oration in 
Wilmington from the Daily Journal of that date. 

April 12, 1859. 

Me. Everett’s Oration. 

Last evening Thalian Hall was filled by an attentive audi- 
ence eager to listen to the Washington oration of Hon. Edward 
Everett, of Massachusetts. 

At 8 o’clock Mr. Everett, accompanied by a committee of citi- 
zens, appeared upon the stage and was introduced to the audi- 
ence by George Davis, Esq., whose eloquent though brief re- 
marks formed a fitting prelude to the splendid composition of 
the distinguished speaker. 

Mr. Everett is, we believe, 65 years of age, tall, rather portly 
than otherwise, his hair, trimmed short, is nearly white, and we 
learn from those who have heard him before that either advanc- 
ing years or illness have considerably subdued the vigor of his 
tones and the energy of his delivery. His features, those of a 
cultivated gentleman, have been or will be made familiar to 
most through the portraits of him which have been published. 

We have no desire to attempt any sketch of Mr. Everett’s 
address further than to glance at a very few points. He spoke 
of three eras in Washington’s life — when he fought in the old 
French War, when he took command of the American forces, 
and when he retired from that command. He spoke of what he 
denominated the “Age of Washington,” reviewed the history of 
the eighteenth and first half of the nineteenth century ; enumer- 
ated the great things that had been done, and the great men 
that had figured within that space of time to which future ages 
would turn as the Era of Washington; contrasted the character 
of the American hero and statesman with that of Peter the 
Great of Russia, Frederick the Great of Prussia, or Hapoleon 
the Great of France. 

From Major Washington’s visit to Venango down to the last 
stage of President Washington’s life, the speaker followed that 
great man’s career, dwelling with inimitable skill upon the 
great and good points of his character. 

Better still than his comparison and contrast of the character 
of Washington with that of the great men of his own immediate 
day, was the episode in which he turned hack to John, Duke of 
Marlborough, the wittiest statesman, the most astute diploma- 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

tist, the greatest captain of his day, yet a dishonest man, faith- 
less to his sovereign, a traitor to his country, and a robber of the 
brave soldiers whose strong arms gave him victory. He pic- 
tured in glowing language the beauty and the grandeur of “Blen- 
heim,” the seat which national gratitude or kingly extravagance 
had given to the great had man, naming it after that famous 
victory. After all, “Blenheim,” with its storied urn and ani- 
mated bust, its pompous eulogy and lying praise, could only 
serve to perpetuate the shame and infamy of John Churchill. 
But away on the banks of the calm Potomac, there rose an 
humble mansion, bought with no money wrested from the hands 
of an oppressed and reluctant people, a mansion in which the 
Father of his Country lived quietly and well with his beloved 
Martha, and from which he passed away peacefully to the bosom 
of his Cod. Around that humble mansion clustered hallowed 
recollections unstained by aught that could dim their purity. 
That home the women of America sought to secure, that they 
might guard it as a sacred trust, restore it to the pristine beauty 
and simplicity in which its great owner had left it, and transmit 
it as a sacred heritage to their children forever. 

In the course of his oration, Mr. Everett alluded very feel- 
ingly to Washington’s last and most emphatic advice to his 
countrymen, to preserve the Union of the States. He drew him- 
self a most painful picture of the probable effect of disunion. 

The audience was the fullest we have ever seen in Wilming- 
ton. We should think the receipts will not vary much from a 
thousand dollars. We believe all were pleased, many delighted, 
none dissatisfied, although some, perhaps, looked for a rather 
different style of speaking, more, perhaps, of what is generally 
regarded as oratory, more stirring, more declamatory. The ad- 
dress was highly polished, beautiful in conception, chaste, yet 
magnificent in execution, the work of a scholar, a rhetorician, 
faultlessly delivered, too faultlessly for an orator, perhaps, for 
oratory is never finished, it suggests more than it directly con- 
veys, its apparent failures are sometimes its most effective 
points, its seeming, mayhaps its real forgetfulness, makes us, 
too, forget, carries us away, leads our feelings captive ; we cease 
to mark gesture or tone, we feel but do not analyze our feelings. 
Mr. Everett may be, perhaps is, something more or higher than 
an orator, but he is also something different. 

Notable Incidents 



In April, 1850, one of the most remarkable demonstrations 
in the history of Wilmington occurred on the occasion of the 
death of the illustrious John C. Calhoun. The following ex- 
cerpts from the local newspapers of that date indicate the pro- 
found emotion which stirred the hearts of our people : 

Another of the master spirits of the country has passed from 
time to eternity. John C. Calhoun died in the City of Wash- 
ington on Sunday morning last. The sad intelligence of his 
death was to some extent anticipated from recent reports of his 
dangerous sickness, yet it will strike with heavy force upon the 
public mind. 

The following telegraphic dispatch, dated Washington, March 
31st, we copy from the Charleston Mercury of Monday: “Mr. 
Calhoun died this morning at a quarter past seven o’clock in 
the full possession of his faculties. A few hours previous he 
directed his son. Dr. John C. Calhoun, to lock up his manu- 
scripts, and just before his death he beckoned him to his bedside 
and, with his eyes fixed upon him, expired. He died without 
the slightest symptom of pain, and to the last his eyes retained 
their brilliancy. With his son, there were at his bedside, Mr. 
Venable, of North Carolina, and Messrs. Orr and Wallace, of 
South Carolina. Mr. Venable has been devoted in his atten- 
tions to him for weeks, and is entitled to the deepest gratitude. 
The body will be placed in a metallic coffin and deposited in 
the Congressional Burial Ground until the wishes of his family 
are ascertained. 

“The Governor of South Carolina has appointed a committee 
of twenty-five, consisting of citizens of Charleston, to proceed 
to Washington to receive and convey to his native State the 
remains of John C. Calhoun.” 

Wilmington Chronicle. 

Wednesday, April 24, 1850. 

Remains of Me. Calhoun. 

It is expected that the remains of Mr. Calhoun will reach 
Wilmington today about 12 o’clock. The Committee of Ar- 
rangements publish the following: 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Order of Procession. 

For escorting the remains of the Hon. J. C. Calhoun. 

The procession will he formed in the following order, the right rest- 
ing on the railroad depot, in open order, for the reception of the corps 
of attendants on the arrival of the cars. 

Order of Procession. 

Clergy of the various denominations. 

Sergeant at arms and assistants. 




Relations of the deceased. 

Committee of the U. S. Senate. 

Committee of South Carolina. 

Committee of Arrangements. 

Citizens of South Carolina. 

Judges of the Supreme and Superior Courts. 

Members of the bar. 

Members of the medical profession. 

Magistrate of police and commissioners of the town, collector of 
customs and officers of the United States service, president and 
directors of the Wilmington and Raleigh R. R., members of the 
various societies of the town, in citizen dress, teachers of the schools 
and academies, captains of vessels and seamen, citizens and strangers. 

The Committee of Arrangements recommend the following 
to their fellow-citizens : A committee of ten, consisting of A. J. 
DeRosset, sr., James Owen, James F. McRee, sr., Thomas H. 
Wright, P. K. Dickinson, John Walker, William C. Betten- 
court, Thomas Boring, F. J. Hill, of Brunswick, and James 
Iredell, of Raleigh, will proceed up the line of the Wilmington 
and Raleigh R. R. to receive the remains, and escort them in 
their passage through the State. These gentlemen will also act 
as pallbearers in the procession. 

The citizens generally are requested to close their stores, to 
suspend all operations of business, and to meet at the depot at 
12 o’clock. There the procession will be formed, under the 
direction of William C. Howard as chief marshal, to receive 
the remains in open order and escort them to the foot of Market 
Street, where the boat for Charleston, the Nina, will he waiting 
to receive them. 

A gun from the wharf of the Wilmington and Raleigh R. R. 
Co. will give the earliest notice of the arrival of the cars. Imme- 
diately upon the firing of this gun, the fiags of the public build- 

Notable Incidents 


ings and the ships in port will be struck at half-mast ; the bells 
of the town will commence tolling and minute guns will be fired. 

The clergy and the pallbearers are requested to call at Messrs. 
Dawsons’ store for gloves and crape. The citizens will find a 
supply of crape at the same place. 

The steamer will leave for Charleston, it is expected, about 

five o’clock, p. m. Wm . 0 . Howard, G. M. 

J. G. Green. 

Eli W. Hale, Asst. M. 

Tuesday, April 23, 1850. 

The steamer Nina arrived here yesterday from Charleston, 
for the purpose of conveying hence to that city the remains of 
Mr. Calhoun. 

Courtesy: The mayor of Charleston has, on behalf of the 

city, tendered its hospitalities to the magistrate of police of 
Wilmington and the committee appointed to receive the remains 
of Mr. Calhoun on the passage through this place to South Caro- 
lina. Colonel Miller, the magistrate of police, has addressed a 
polite note to the mayor accepting the courteous proffer. The 
South Carolina State Committee of Arrangements has also in- 
vited the Wilmington committee to proceed to Charleston, join 
in the funeral solemnities, and become the guests of the city. 

The committee of the Senate appointed to accompany the 
remains of Mr. Calhoun to South Carolina has invited three 
gentlemen of the House to accompany them, to wit : Mr. Holmes, 
Mr. Winthrop, and Mr. Venable, all of whom have accepted the 

The following is copied from the Wilmington Chronicle of 
May 1, 1850 : 

On Wednesday last, near 2 o’clock p. m., the cars arrived from 
Weldon, bringing in the mortal remains of John C. Calhoun, 
in the special charge of Mr. Beale, the sergeant at arms of the 
United States Senate, and Senators Mason, of Virginia, Clarke, 
of Rhode Island, Dickinson, of Hew York, Davis, of Missouri, 
and Dodge, of Iowa, and Mr. Berrien, of Georgia. The other 
members of the Senate Committee joined them in Charleston, 
having gone on some days before. Mr. Venable, of Horth Caro- 
lina, Mr. Holmes, of South Carolina, members of the House of 
Representatives, accompanied the committee by invitation. Mr. 
Winthrop, of Massachusetts, who had likewise been invited to 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

form one of the company, was prevented from doing so. A com- 
mittee of twenty-five from South Carolina and three of the sons 
of the deceased also accompanied the remains. The citizens of 
North Carolina to whom had been assigned the duty of attend- 
ing on the remains whilst passing through Wilmington, pro- 
ceeded up the railroad and joined the train some thirty or forty 
miles above, and in the procession from the depot to the steamer 
at the wharf acted as pallbearers. The arrangements as to the 
procession, etc., were carried into effect in accordance with the 
program published in our last issue. 

The following we take from the J ournal : 

On the arrival of the cars, the stores and places of business 
were closed, the shipping in port struck their colors to half-mast, 
the hells of the various churches were tolled, and minute guns 
fired while the procession moved from the depot down Front 
Street to the steamer Nina , lying at Market Dock, where she 
was waiting to receive the remains of the lamented deceased, 
and convey them to the city of Charleston. 

Notwithstanding the inclemency of the day, the procession 
was, we think, the largest we have ever seen in this place. 
Everybody seemed anxious to pay the last respect to the states- 
man and orator who has so long and so faithfully filled some of 
the most responsible posts of his country. 

The steamer Governor Dudley , handsomely decorated for the 
occasion, accompanied the Nina , taking over a portion of the 
committees and guests to the city of Charleston. Both steamers 
left the wharf about half past three o’clock p. m. 

Wilmington Committee. — The gentlemen whose names follow 
went to Charleston on Wednesday last with the remains of Mr. 
Calhoun, as a committee from the citizens of Wilmington, in 
manifestation of respect for the memory of the illustrious de- 
ceased: Dr. A. J. DeRosset, sr., J. T. Miller, Gen. James Owen, 
C. D. Ellis, Gen. L. H. Marsteller, P. M. Walker, Thomas 
Loring, A. J. DeRosset, jr., Dr. J. E. McRee, jr., Dr. John 
Swann, Dr. William A. Berry, James Fulton, James G. Green, 
Henry R. Savage, William C. Bettencourt, Edward Cantwell, 
John Cowan, John L. Holmes, Eli W. Hall, Joseph J. Lippitt, 
Henry Nutt, Robert H. Cowan, and A. A. Brown. 

The Charleston Courier of Saturday says: (( A committee 

appointed by the citizens of Wilmington came on in the steamer 
Nina and was met at the landing by the chairman of the Com- 

Notable Incidents 


mittee of Reception, who welcomed them to the city and ex- 
tended to them its hospitalities, to which Dr. DeRosset, sr., their 
chairman, responded in an appropriate manner.” 

We shonld be greatly lacking in courtesy were we not to ex- 
press in this public manner the high sense of gratefulness which 
rests with the Wilmington committee for the manifold atten- 
tions and kindnesses bestowed upon them in Charleston by the 
Committee of Reception and by many others. The profuse and 
elegant hospitality of which the members of our committee were 
the objects is very deeply appreciated by them individually and 


In Mr. Webster’s letter from Wilmington, already quoted, 
he makes reference to a Mr. McKay as personifying political 
sentiment outside the town of Wilmington. 

Gen. James Ivor McKay was born in Bladen County in 1793, 
and died suddenly at Goldsboro, H. C., the 15th of September, 
1853, while on his way home from Tarboro. His name, “Ivor,” 
was altogether appropriate, for he was eminently great. In the 
campaign of 1844 his report as chairman of the Committee of 
Ways and Means constituted the Democratic platform on which 
Polk was elected President; and in 1848 the Democrats of 
Horth Carolina presented him as their candidate for the Vice 

It was said of this distinguished son of the Cape Fear that 
he was very quiet and reserved in his deportment and held in 
contempt all manner of base dealing and trickery — a man of 
such integrity that his presence always inspired confidence and 
trustfulness in those whose expressions he desired, because they 
believed in his fidelity. 

The Wilmington Daily Journal of September 16, 1853, the 
day after his death, said : 

“It becomes our painful duty this morning to announce the 
unexpected death of one of our most worthy citizens, Gen. 
James I. McKay, of Bladen County. General McKay arrived 
here on last Monday night from his residence in Bladen en route 
for Tarboro, in Edgecombe County, as a witness in the case of 
the State against Armstrong. When we saw him on Tuesday 
morning he was apparently in better health than for some time 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

previous, and conversed freely. We learn that on his return 
from Edgecombe yesterday afternoon he was taken suddenly ill 
on board the cars, and on arriving at Goldsboro it was found 
necessary for him to stop, where he expired, at Mrs. Borden’s 
hotel, at a quarter before 8 o’clock yesterday evening, of bilious 
or cramp colic, in the sixty-fifth year of his age. 

“As a public man, General McKay was well known to be a 
firm and consistent Democrat, having served his constituents 
for eighteen years, from 1831 to 1849, as member of Congress 
from this district, and during that time, at one period, occupy- 
ing with marked ability the high and very responsible office of 
chairman of the Committee of Ways and Means, of which com- 
mittee he was chairman at the time of the passage of the Tariff 
Bill of 1846. As a representative, no member of Congress com- 
manded more attention or respect. He might truly he said to 
have served his constituents ‘till he voluntarily retired’ as a 
national representative, always looking to the best interests of 
the whole country, and discarding all factions and sectional 

At a meeting of the members of the Wilmington Bar held on 
Saturday, the 17th day of September, 1853, the following pro- 
ceedings were had : 

“On motion of H. L. Holmes, Esq., Robert Strange, jr., 
Thomas C. Miller, Mauger London, and David Reid, were ap- 
pointed a committee to prepare resolutions expressive of the 
regret of the members of the bar, upon hearing of the death of 
Hon. James I. McKay, who died suddenly at Goldsboro, on 
Thursday evening last. Mr. Strange, from the committee, re- 
ported the following preamble and resolutions : 

This meeting of the members of the Wilmington Bar has heard with 
deep regret of the sudden and melancholy death of Hon. James I. 
McKay, of Bladen County. General McKay for many years was a 
leading practitioner in the courts of this circuit, and since he retired 
from the bar, has been greatly distinguished in the councils of the 
nation. The force of his intellect won for him this high position, 
and strict adherence to his principles and great regard for the honor 
and safety of his country, combined with almost unparalleled integ- 
rity as a public man, secured to him a national reputation, of which 
North Carolina may justly be proud. 

While the death of General McKay is a loss to the whole country, yet 
we with whom he has been more immediately associated, can not with- 
hold this slight tribute of respect to his memory. 

Therefore resolved, That by the death of Hon. James I. McKay, North 
Carolina has been deprived of one of her most distinguished citizens, 

Notable Incidents 


and the whole nation of one whose faithful adherence to the Con- 
stitution of his country, and whose great ability and honesty of pur- 
pose, have won the admiration of men of all parties. 

At Wilmington, as his remains were borne through the city, 
there was a great public demonstration. His body was met by 
the military, all the bells of the city tolled, and an escort accom- 
panied the remains to their last resting place in the family bury- 
ing ground on the home plantation in Bladen. The steamboat 
which conveyed the sad cortege from Wilmington to Elizabeth- 
town was decked in the habiliments of woe, and its wailing 
monotone resounded continuously through the forests that lined 
the banks of the river. 


Among the many great men who have adorned the life of our 
community and contributed to the prosperity of this section of 
the State, no one has surpassed in usefulness Edward B. Dudley. 

On the occasion of his death, Robert H. Cowan was selected 
by the citizens of Wilmington to deliver an address commem- 
orative of his life and character, and performed that public 
service on the eighth day of November, 1855. From Colonel 
Cowan’s address we learn that Governor Dudley was born in 
Onslow County, December 15, 1789, and died in Wilmington 
on the 30th of October, 1855. When twenty-one years of age 
he represented Onslow in the House of Commons, and in 1813 
and 1814 in the Senate. During the war with England he 
came to Wilmington, the second in command of the regiment of 
volunteers who flocked from the neighboring counties to repel 
threatened British invasion. In 1815 he removed to Wilming- 
ton, and in 1816 and 1817 he represented the town of Wilming- 
ton in the House of Commons. In politics he was a Republi- 
can, as distinguished from the Federalists. Governor Holmes, 
who was the representative of the district in Congress, having 
died in November, 1829, Mr. Dudley was elected to fill the 
vacancy. At that time he was a Jackson man; but not being 
satisfied with the policy of the administration, in Congress he 
attached himself to the opposition, and then declined reelection, 
saying, “I can not, fellow-citizens, forego my own opinion for 
that of any man. I acknowledge no master but the law and 
duty — no party but the interests of my country.” He was, 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

more than any other man, the father of the Wilmington and 
Weldon Railroad and was its first president. He was elected 
governor, in 1836, the first governor chosen by the people — and 
doubtless selected because of his advocacy of internal improve- 
ments. a He possessed administrative ability of a very rare 
order; and his administration as governor was one of the most 
efficient and practically useful which North Carolina has ever 
known” — and moreover “his hospitality was dispensed so liber- 
ally, so graciously, and with such a warm and open heart, that 
it will long be remembered by all who had occasion to visit the 
capital while he occupied the Executive Mansion. * * * His 
whole energies were given to the cause of internal improvements, 
for the development of the resources of North Carolina, and for 
the building up of her commercial greatness. * * * The 

completion of a liberal system of internal improvements and the 
establishment of a permanent system of common schools formed 
the highest objects of his ambition. His career proves that he is 
well entitled to the proud name of Father of Internal Improve- 
ments in North Carolina. He was far in advance of his age; 
but he lived to see the State arouse from her lethargy and adopt 
the measures he had forecast with sagacity and enlarged and 
enlightened patriotism.” 

Addressing the stockholders of the Wilmington and Weldon 
Railroad Company, Colonel Cowan said: “You must remember 
that yours was the pioneer work in North Carolina, that it was 
an experiment, that it was undertaken without sufficient means, 
that it was condemned beforehand as a failure, that it encoun- 
tered troubles, trials, difficulties of the most extraordinary char- 
acter; that nothing but the most indomitable energy, the most 
liberal enterprise, the most unceasing patience, the most deter- 
mined spirit of perseverance, could have enabled it to surmount 
these difficulties. Governor Dudley brought all of these quali- 
fications to the task and commanded the success which he so 
eminently deserved. He subscribed a considerable portion of his 
large estate to its completion. He devoted all his time, all his 
talents, and all his energies, and that too at an immense loss 
from the neglect of his private interests, to put it into successful 
operation. Nor did his services nor his personal sacrifices stop 
there. When your offices, your warehouses and your workshops, 
and all of your machinery which was not then in actual use 
were laid in ruins by the terrible fire of 1843 ; when a heap of 
smouldering embers marked the spot where all of your posses- 

Notable Incidents 


sions in Wilmington the day before had stood ; when your most 
ardent friends had begun to despair ; when your own merchants 
had refused to credit yon, and, regarded merely from a business 
point of view, had justly refused, because they had already ex- 
tended their confidence beyond the limits of prudence; when 
your long sinking credit was at last destroyed and your failure 
seemed inevitable — Governor Dudley came forward and pledged 
the whole of his private estate as your security, and thus, with 
renewed confidence in your solvency, you were enabled to go on 
to that complete success which awaited you entirely through his 

Such was the character of the man — a man of generous senti- 
ments, of high courtesy, of true courage. He set a noble exam- 
ple, was distinguished in all the practical elements of life, and 
was eminently good in all of his social relations. Thus his 
death was mourned as a general loss, and his memory is treas- 
ured by the people of Wilmington. 


On the evening of the 30th of April, 1856, the old New Han- 
over County Courthouse, on Princess Street in Wilmington, was 
“packed and jammed” by an enthusiastic and excited meeting 
of the local Democratic association, of which Dr. John D. Bel- 
lamy was the president, J. D. Gardner, jr., and C. H. Robinson, 
the secretaries. Eli W. Hall, Esq., a prominent lawyer, was 
called to the chair and made an eloquent address upon political 
affairs out of which had arisen a strong party contest for com- 
missioners of navigation. He showed how Know-Nothing vic- 
tories had been won over an unsuspecting people, and party 
issues forced upon a community in whose local affairs they had 
been previously unknown. 

Dr. W. C. Wilkings, a prominent young physician and poli- 
tician, was loudly called for, and he responded in an animated 
and stirring address (so runs the Journal) in which he por- 
trayed the absurdity, the nonsense, the arrogance of the assump- 
tion of exclusive Americanism, made, he said, by the anti-Demo- 
cratic party. He was followed by Moody B. Smith, a strong 
speaker, who was listened to with close attention, interrupted 
by frequent applause. 

At the conclusion of his speech, Mr. Ashe moved a vote of 
thanks to the speakers. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

On Saturday, May 3, 1856, another grand rally of the Demo- 
crats was held in front of the Carolina Hotel, on Market and 
Second Streets, and the assembled crowd proceeded thence with 
torches at a late hour in the evening to “The Oaks,” on Dry 

The Journal says that insulting reference had been made by 
the Know-Nothings to the “Sand Hill Tackies.” Hon. Warren 
Winslow was the principal speaker and received the thanks of 
the assembly for his eloquent address. He was followed by Mr. 
John L. Holmes, who spoke in earnest and stirring style. The 
fateful election of commissioners of navigation, which was to 
include one of the most painful tragedies in the history of Wil- 
mington, occurred on the 5th of May, 1856. 

The J ournal says that by some strange mistake an active and 
staunch Democrat, in the heat and excitement of the voting, got 
hold of and put in a Know-Nothing vote, thus in fact electing 
Mr. Flanner, whereas, had the mistake not occurred, Mr. Costin 
would have been elected. 

In the meantime, intense excitement throughout the town was 
caused by a rumor that Dr. Wilkings’ speech, referred to, had 
incensed his friend, Mr. J. H. Flanner, who had published a 
card which resulted in a challenge to mortal combat from Dr. 
Wilkings. I was then nine years of age, at Jewett’s school, and 
I remember distinctly the excitement of the schoolboys while 
Mr. Flanner dashed past the schoolhouse behind his two black 
thoroughbreds on the way to the fatal meeting. 

The Herald of Monday, May 5, 1856, said : “Our community 
was painfully startled on Saturday afternoon last by the recep- 
tion of a telegraphic dispatch from Marion, S. C., to the effect 
that a hostile meeting had taken place near Fair Bluff, between 
Dr. William C. Wilkings and Joseph H. Flanner, Esq., both 
young men and citizens of this place, and that on the third fire 
the former received the ball of his antagonist through the lungs, 
and in a very few moments expired. The difficulty grew out of 
a speech made by Dr. Wilkings on Wednesday evening last at 
the Democratic meeting at the courthouse. They fought with 
pistols, at ten paces, Dr. Wilkings being the challenger.” The 
gloom over this dreadful affair hung for many years over those 
who participated in it, and the principal who survived the duel, 
and, going abroad as a State agent, survived the four years’ war, 
died some years later, it is said unhappy and under a cloud in 
a foreign land. 

Notable Incidents 


The following cards are taken from the Daily Journal , May 
5, 7, and 8, 1856, to show something of the temper of the public 
mind with reference to this sad and exciting affair. 


Died in Marion district, S. C., on the 3d instant, Dr. W. C. 
Wilkings, of Wilmington, Y. C., aged about 30 years. 

Lost to the community in the full promise of a glorious man- 
hood, few men could be more deeply or more generally regretted 
than our deceased friend. Brave, ardent, and generous, gifted 
by nature, refined and strengthened by education, there lay be- 
fore him the prospect of a long, useful, and honorable career. 
That career has been cut short, the promise of his ripe manhood 
left unfulfilled, and he has gone down to his grave before his 
time, but his memory will long survive in the hearts of his 
friends, and the turf that rests over his cold form be kept green 
by the unbidden tear starting even from eyes that knew him not 
in life. 

Our intimate acquaintance with Dr. Wilkings was of com- 
paratively recent date, and arose out of community of political 
feeling. But we soon learned to love and respect the man for 
himself, and we now mourn him as a personal friend. It is 
for those who have known him longer and better than we to do 
justice to his character. We could not omit this feeble and in- 
adequate tribute to his memory. 

Yesterday his remains were followed to their last resting place 
in Oakdale Cemetery by the largest and most deeply affected 
concourse of people that has ever been seen in Wilmington. 
Many an eye was wet, although long unused to tears, and as the 
solemn bell tolled all hearts throbbed mournfully and painfully. 
When he died, a MAY, a noble, true-hearted man, passed from 
amongst us. 


Saddened by a great calamity in our midst, we have no heart 
today for political discussion. Overpowered by feelings beyond 
our ability to express, we know that mere words would be out of 
place. Standing in heart by the freshly opened grave of a valued 
friend, whose warm grasp yet thrills through our frame, can we 
be expected to raise a shout of contest or victory ? Duty to our 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

principles alone impels us, but, in sorrow or in joy, that feeling 
should predominate. We trust that it will prove so today, that, 
though saddened, the Democrats are not disheartened. 

Now is not the time to speak of recent events. Now is not the 
time to harrow up hearts yet bleeding, and we forbear. That 
God who tempers the wind to the shorn lamb will be the com- 
forter and sustainer of the bereaved ones in their deep affliction. 
Let ns trust that His helping hand will not be withheld, that 
He will pour balm into the bleeding wounds, that He will bind 
up the broken hearts of those whose sorrow is more than they 
can bear. 

Wilmington, N. C., May 6, 1856. 

As there are reports in circulation calculated to do the undersigned 
much injustice, in reference to the late unfortunate difficulty between 
Mr. Flanner and Dr. Wilkings, we feel compelled to state that with 
the advice of our lamented friend, Dr. Wilkings, we expressed our- 
selves on different occasions as perfectly willing to agree to any 
honorable settlement; and under the influence of this feeling, when, 
after the second exchange of shots, Dr. James F. McRee, jr., who was 
acting in the capacity of surgeon to both parties (both being present), 
approached and expressed a warm desire that the matter should be 
settled, saying that “it had gone far enough, and ought to be settled, 
that both parties had acted fairly and honorably, and had shown to 
us, as well as to the world, that they would always be ready to resent 
any imputation on their honor,” and then proposed, for the purpose 
of giving Dr. Wilkings an opportunity of making an explanation 
of his remarks made in the courthouse, that Mr. Flanner should with- 
draw his card published in the Herald of the 1st inst., to which we 
assented, expressing our willingness, if the card was withdrawn, to 
disclaim for Dr. Wilkings using the language imputed to him by Mr. 
Flanner. This proposition, coming as it did from a friend of both 
parties, we sincerely desired would be accepted by the opposite party. 
It was not, and the matter proceeded to its unfortunate termination. 

W. M. Walker. 

F. N. Waddell, jr. 

These are the very words, we think. Dr. McRee doubtless recollects. 

The above card, with a few slight alterations, was prepared 
for publication last evening, but was withheld at the suggestion 
of a friend, in order, if possible, to make a joint statement by 
both parties. With that purpose in view, I called upon Mr. 
O. P. Meares, and handed him the card for his perusal, suggest- 
ing at the time that if there was any modification he desired 
and we approved of it, we would sign it. He objected to the 

Notable Incidents 


card on the ground that it did not contain a proposition for a 
settlement of the difficulty which he, Mr. Meares, had offered 
me; the acceptance of which, on consultation, was declined, be- 
cause we felt it would sacrifice the honor of our friend. This 
proposition was not inserted in the original card, because we 
did not consider it pertinent to our exculpation from the charges 
now rife in the community. I then requested Mr. Meares to 
reduce his proposition to writing, which he did, but as we differ 
so materially in our respective recollections of its character, I 
thought it but right to publish his as well as my own recollection 

of W. M. Walker. 

The last conversation held between Mr. Meares and Mr. Walker, be- 
fore the third fire, was after the following manner and to this effect: 
Mr. Meares called Mr. Walker to him and said that he was willing 
to make a fair and honorable settlement, that he, Mr. Meares, would 
not make an unconditional retraction of Mr. Planner’s card, but he, Mr. 
Meares, would make in writing a withdrawal or retraction for a 
specific purpose, and that specific purpose (expressed in the same 
paper writing) should be to allow an explanation on the part of 
Dr. Wilkings, to which Mr. Walker replied that he would consult 
his friends, and then walked to where his friends were, and after con- 
versing with them for a few moments, remarked that we would have 
to go to work again. Whereupon we immediately loaded the pistols 
and the third fire was had. 

O. P. Meares. 

May 6, 1856, 12 o’clock. 

N. B. — Mr. Meares, at the request of Mr. Walker, gives him the above 
as his statement of his proposition made to Mr. Walker immediately 
before the third fire. 

Mr. O. P. Meares, 

Dear Sir : — After having duly considered the above statement, and not 
being able to reconcile it to my recollection of our conversation, I 
consulted my friend, Mr. Waddell, to whom I had repeated it word for 
word in a few moments after its occurrence. I find his recollection 
accords with my own, and that is, that your proposition made to me on 
the above occasion, was to the following effect: Dr. Wilkings should 

request in writing a withdrawal of the card of Mr. Planner and in the 
same writing should state what would be the character of his, Dr. 
Wilkings’, explanation. In this event, you furthermore stated you 
would consent to withdraw Mr. Planner’s card for that specific pur- 
pose, viz.: for the purpose of receiving Dr. Wilkings’ explanation. 
This proposition, as friends of Dr. Wilkings, having his honor in our 
keeping, we felt bound to reject. 

W. M. Walker. 

May 6, 1856, 2 o’clock p. m. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

To the Public. 

I take this method of making a few statements in explana- 
tion of the course pursued by me in connection with the recent 
duel. I can say, with a clear conscience, that I was fully im- 
pressed with the responsibility which was attached to my posi- 
tion. I knew that upon one unguarded expression, or one im- 
prudent act of mine, might depend the life of a fellow-being. I 
can also say that I was not actuated by any feeling of enmity 
towards the late Dr. Wilkings. We had been horn and reared in 
the same community, and though not intimate friends, we had 
never had any personal difficulty in our lives. I can say, too, 
that Mr. Planner made the declaration before he left town, as 
he did on the field after the second fire, that he did not desire 
to take the life of his opponent, and that he hoped a fair and 
honorable settlement would be made. Por these reasons, I went 
upon the field with the full determination to accept any propo- 
sition for a settlement which I could regard as fair and honor- 
able, and during the conversation which occurred after the sec- 
ond exchange of shots, I repeatedly said that I desired a fair 
and honorable settlement. By way of showing my willingness 
for such a settlement, I call attention to the fact, that, as the 
representative of the challenged party, my duty was simply to 
receive and consider such propositions as might be made by the 
challenging party, and such is the course usually pursued by 
persons when placed in the same position, and yet I went beyond 
my duty by making the proposition for a withdrawal for a spe- 
cific purpose, as set forth in the card signed by me and pub- 
lished by Mr. Walker in the Journal of yesterday. 

I deem it due to the public to state, that the first mention 
which was made of a settlement was immediately after the first 
fire, when Dr. James P. McKee, jr., who was acting as the sur- 
geon for both parties, remarked that he hoped the difficulty 
could now be settled, as the parties had taken one fire. Where- 
upon, I turned to Mr. W. M. Walker, who was the representa- 
tive of the other party, and asked him the question, in the pres- 
ence of all the parties : “What have you to say, Mr. Walker ?” 
To which he immediately replied as follows : “Well, sir, we still 
occupy our former position ; you must retract and apologize for 
your card.” I then said, “Is this all you have to say ?” He an- 
swered, “Yes.” And then I said, “We have no retraction or 

Notable Incidents 


apology to make.” We then loaded the pistols and the second 
fire was made. 

The object of this card is not to give a full account of all the 
facts which occurred upon the field ; it is merely to state what is 
sufficient, and no more, to explain the course which I pursued 
upon the field. In conclusion, I will say that the position taken 
by me with regard to a settlement was that I was willing to 
retract Mr. Planner ? s card for a specific purpose, it being so 
expressed in writing, hut that I would not make an uncondi- 
tional retraction of his card. 

I regret the necessity which compels me to publish even this 
much upon this subject. 

May 8, 1856. 

O. P. Meares. 

The allegation in Dr. Wilkings’ speech that the ticket of the 
opposition was composed of merchants who would not hesitate 
to sacrifice the public interests (quarantine, etc.) for the sake 
of a dollar brought out the publication of Mr. Planner’s card on 
the following day, that the statement was false, and that Dr. 
Wilkings knew it was false when he made it. Wilkings promptly 
challenged Planner, whose first shot struck Wilkings’ hat; the 
third penetrated his right lung and killed him instantly. 

Interesting Memories 


Mr. Stephen Jewett, a most amiable and estimable gentle- 
man, cabinet-maker by trade, settled in Smithville about tbe 
year 1839, where be was employed in the United States Gov- 
ernment service and also as postmaster of that village. While 
residing there be married Miss Mary Gracie, a Scotch lady of 
great accomplishments, intimately related to the president of 
the Bank of Cape Fear, Dr. John Hill. Mr. and Mrs. Jewett 
subsequently opened a school at Smithville which they con- 
ducted jointly, she having been previously engaged in the pro- 
fession of teaching in Wilmington. Mrs. Jewett died while on 
her way to Moore County with her husband. 

Some years later Mr. J ewett was married to Miss Lncy Brad- 
ley, sister of the late Mr. Bichard Bradley. He then made his 
home here, and became cashier of the Bank of Wilmington, in 
which capacity he served, honored and respected by the com- 
munity, until his death during the yellow fever epidemic in 

Mr. George W. Jewett, a professional school-teacher of supe- 
rior attainments, came to Wilmington from Kent Hill, Maine, 
at the suggestion of his brother Stephen, about the year 1852, 
and opened the Wilmington Male and Female Seminary in a 
small frame house on the west side of Third Street, near Ann 
Street, and later in the old Society Hall in the rear of St. 
James’s Church. He was assisted in the female department by 
his accomplished wife and two other Northern ladies, Miss Stet- 
son and Miss Whipple. A large majority of Mr. Jewett’s boys 
at that time were sons of the best people of our community, with 
a reasonable knowledge of the rules of propriety, notwithstand- 
ing which his school discipline was marked, under the influence 
of passion, by frequent acts of unnecessary severity, and, at 
times, by positive cruelty ; which, instead of breaking down his 
institution, increased the patronage, our fathers in those days 
evidently regarding such physical treatment as both wholesome 
and necessary. There were a few very disorderly boys, how- 
ever, who deserved a whipping as regularly as they got it. Who, 

[ 238 ] 

Interesting Memories 


among the survivors of the incorrigibles, can forget the stern 
command: “Walk into the recitation room, sir/’ over which 
apartment might have been written, “He who enters here leaves 
hope behind” ; because the unhappy culprit to whom this com- 
mand was addressed at once gave himself up for lost, reminding 
us of Marryat’s boy, Walter Puddock, who, having been hauled 
up by his preceptor, O’ Gallagher, without remonstrance imme- 
diately began to prepare for punishment by the reduction of 
wearing apparel. 

Oft repeated flagellations, according to the testimony of the 
old-time Eton hoys, render the subject callous, and some of these 
hopeless cases of Mr. Jewett’s became so hardened by this proc- 
ess that they ceased to make an outcry, and, in the language of 
the prize ring, came up smiling after the first round, while the 
preceptor had evidently the worst of it. 

Two habitual offenders, Henry McKoy and William Fergus, 
however, found it necessary to protect themselves from the neck 
downwards with padding, which sometimes shifted during the 
inevitable struggle, causing yells of entreaty which could be 
heard at a great distance. 

Perhaps the most laughable scene in our four years’ prepara- 
tion for college was the startling appearance one morning of one 
of these boys changed from his attenuated habit of a lean and 
hungry Cassius to a wonderful state of exaggerated obesity, 
which Mr. Jewett promptly discovered and proceeded to unroll 
and reduce before punishment, with the anxious inquiry, 
“Where on earth did you get all this flannel ?” 

Many who were Mr. Jewett’s pupils will recall the compul- 
sory singing lessons and the noisy demonstrations when the ex- 
hilarating and senseless fugues of “Three Blind Mice” and 
“Scotland’s Burning” were rendered in conclusion. 

Two or three years later the school was removed to the prem- 
ises on the east corner of Third and Ann Streets and continued 
until the commencement of the war, when Mr. Jewett went to 
Statesville, where he taught for a while. He returned to Wil- 
mington about the close of the war and resumed teaching in the 
house occupied by the late Captain Divine, and subsequently 
on the corner of Second and Chestnut Streets, hut left about the 
year 1881 for his former home in Maine, where he died of heart 
disease. The summons came suddenly, while he was sitting 
dressed in his chair. He simply straightened out his arms and 
ceased to breathe. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

While teaching in the Wood house, on the corner of Second 
and Chestnut Streets, an incident occurred which has been 
treasured by the surviving pupils as one of the few occasions 
when the boys “got ahead of” their alert preceptor. Doc Nutt 
and John Cantwell were reckoned as the incorrigibles of the 
school, and they ceased not to torment the teacher with their 
irrepressible pranks ; it was, therefore, not at all unusual when 
Mr. Jewett, at the closing hour, ordered them one fine afternoon 
to remain for punishment. The hours wore away until night- 
fall, and as the teacher came not, the truth dawned on the de- 
linquents that he had forgotten them. They heard his tread 
upstairs returning from the lodge meeting, followed by a still- 
ness which convinced them that he had retired for the night. 
Immediately Doc’s fertile brain hatched out a plot ; a whispered 
agreement was made in the semi-darkness of the room; the 
window on Second Street, which was only a few feet from the 
ground was raised; the two boys climbed gently to the street 
and lowered the sash to a chip on the sill, so that they could grip 
it on the outside. They then proceeded homeward, and after a 
hearty supper and a sound sleep, they reappeared at school at 
daylight and noiselessly assumed their places at their desks. 
When the old woman who made the fires and swept the room 
appeared later, she was fairly astounded to see them sleepily 
conning the tasks assigned to them. With a loud exclamation 
she brought Mr. Jewett down in his night clothes. He was pro- 
fuse in his apologies — distressed with the thought of his forget- 
fulness — and tenderly solicitous for their welfare. They had 
suffered enough, he said, and were excused from attendance 
until the following day. The scamps played their part well, 
and wisely kept their own counsel. 

Market Street between Third and Fourth Streets was a busy 
scene of healthful sport for the boys during the hour of recess ; 
“old hundred,” “three-handed cat,” games of marbles “for fun” 
and “for winnance,” spinning tops of all descriptions — the most 
approved and expensive being fashioned by William Kellogg — 
“jumping frog,” walking on the hands with the heels in the air, 
and other diversions made Jack anything but a dull boy. John 
Rankin took first distinction in putting a top to sleep; Steve 
Jewett was most skillful at marbles; little Tom Wright excelled 
at the bat; Jim Metts jumped without running and turned a 
somersault in the air ; he also walked on his hands a whole block, 
followed on foot by an admiring throng; and Richard Moore’s 

Interesting Memories 241 

wonderful skill sent a clamshell straight over St. James’s 
Church tower. 

Periodically, good Miss Urquhart, who lived in the house 
now Dr. Thomas’ office, mildly expostulated when the clamor 
became unbearable; and “sounders,” who drove their carts full 
of ground-peas to market, complained that the leakage in pass- 
ing the school, caused by large stones placed in the cart ruts by 
the boys, was intolerable. These were minor incidents of con- 
stant recurrence; but when Mr. Jewett himself marked time 
with his big brass hand-bell, in the chorus of 

Scotland’s burning! Scotland’s burning! 

Look out! Look out! 

Fire! Fire! Fire! Fire! 

Pour on water! Pour on water! 

and the town bell in the market house brought the Howard Re- 
lief with their hand engine and Captain Griffith with his Hook 
and Ladder Company, our joy was unconfined. 

Jewett’s boys generally turned out well; many became emi- 
nent in their professions. One of the most studious, dignified 
boys was Platt Dickinson Walker, forecasting his elevation to 
the Supreme Court. 

Only two of the forty boys (which was the numerical limit) 
became a reproach to the school ; neither was a fit associate, and 
both were finally expelled. One became a horse thief, and the 
other a murderer ; both were outlawed. In my youth they were 
held up to me by my parents as horrid examples of total de- 
pravity, in striking contrast with the shining virtues of our 
neighbors, the Calder boys, whose footsteps I have always en- 
deavored to follow. 

A system of monitors was a part of Mr. Jewett’s method of 
discipline. At first, in the old school, these very brilliant exam- 
ples of his favor were privileged to fire the stove, sweep the 
room, bring in water, and to take a half holiday on Friday; but 
later this espionage became offensive and fell into desuetude. 

Mr. Jewett always wore rubber shoes, which enabled him to 
steal with cat-like tread upon an unsuspecting culprit absorbed 
in the drawing of a caricature and administer a form of punish- 
ment upon the ear which we all despised. 

The recitation-room floggings were generally severe, but to 
Mr. Jewett’s credit it may be said that there was no leniency 
shown to his four nephews, who had all “a hard road to travel” ; 
and Bradley Jewett, a bright and genial pupil, was often im- 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

posed upon in order to exhibit the discipline of the academy. 
On one occasion “Brad” created a sensation h y exhibiting a 
brass pistol, with which he declared he would shoot his uncle; 
but it was found that the lock was broken, and this bloodthirsty 
design came to naught. 

Eating during school hours was strictly forbidden, hut several 
boys who were incapable of very severe intellectual exercise 
managed to smuggle apples, pies, cakes, and chunks of molasses 
candy into their desks, which they bartered for sundry informa- 
tion about the next lesson. Galloway said that Solomon’s dog 
did not hark himself to death trying to keep them out of the 
Temple of Wisdom. 

Archie Worth, beloved by all, was so pestered by his hungry 
associates while he ate his pie at recess, that he had to climb the 
gatepost to enjoy his repast in peace. From that day he was 
known as “’Tato Pie.” Years afterwards, while he was limping 
along the roadside during the war, some strange troops passed 
him, and one of them exclaimed, “Well, if there ain’t old ’Tato 
Pie from Wilmington !” 

Wednesday was given up to lessons and exhibitions in decla- 
mation. Bob McKee, in “Robert Emmett’s Defense,” and Eu- 
gene Martin, in “The Sailor Boy’s Dream,” headed the list and 
melted us to tears. Clarence Martin, Junius Davis, Gilbert and 
Ered Kidder, Alexander and John London, Cecil Fleming, 
Duncan and Richard Moore, Platt D. Walker, John D. Barry, 
John VanBokkelen, Willie Gus Wright, Levin Lane, Griffith 
McRee, John Rankin, Tom Meares, Sam Peterson, Sonny West, 
Eddie and Tom DeRosset, Stephen and Willie Jewett, Willie 
Meares, Willie Lord, and others not now recalled, gave promise 
of undying fame, in their fervid renditions of “Sennacherib,” 
“Marco Bozzaris,” Patrick Henry’s “Liberty or Death,” “Mark 
Antony’s Oration over Caesar’s dead Body,” “Kosciusko,” “The 
Burial of Sir John Moore,” “Hamlet’s Soliloquy,” and “Hohen- 
linden” (alas! so few survive), and John Walker and big Tom 
Wright divided honors on the immortal “Casabianca.” Henry 
Latimer and the writer were “tied” on the same subject, and as 
I was without doubt the worst declaimer in school, my competi- 
tor had an easy victory. 

Our teacher endeavored to impress upon our minds, by re- 
peated admonitions, the importance of graceful pose and hear- 
ing upon the platform. The declaimers were required to how to 
the preceptor and to the audience before proceeding with their 

Interesting Memories 


speeches. Some of these motions were very ungraceful, and 
others worse. Willie Martin’s bow was like the forward move- 
ment of a muscovy duck; whereupon, Mr. Jewett admonished 
him and directed him to watch Mr. Edward Everett on the occa- 
sion of his forthcoming eulogy of Washington, which was the 
talk of the town. On the following Wednesday Willie was 
called to the stage to imitate the great speaker in his how to his 
audience, which was done with an expression of intense pain in 
his stomach, to the great delight and derision of the whole school. 

One of the most memorable exploits of our school days was 
that of Walter G. MacRae, who came with his brother Roderick 
to the old school near “The Castle.” He had the most retentive 
memory I ever knew, and once when a column of the Daily 
Journal , edited by James Eulton, which usually contained (to 
us) the dryest sort of political twaddle, was read over to him, 
he repeated it “sight unseen,” almost verbatim, to his admiring 
audience. Many years after, we belonged to a local debating 
society, and on one occasion MacRae was obliged to comply with 
his appointment as the principal speaker. Picking up a book 
from the table, he gave us the finest selection of the season. At 
its conclusion we took the volume from his hands and found it 
to be a child’s spelling book. He had recited one of Rufus 
Choate’s celebrated orations. 

Some of the pupils, mere lads at the commencement of hos- 
tilities, fell in battle for the Lost Cause; others have dropped 
by the wayside in the journey of life, and only a few survive, 
of whom we recall the names and well-remembered faces of 
Eugene S. Martin, Leighton Boone, Thomas H. Wright, Gilbert 
P. Kidder, Richard Moore, Thomas D. Meares, John London, 
George G. Thomas, Jordan Thomas, Platt D. Walker, J. T. 
Rankin, H. B. Rankin, A. C. Worth, W. E. Worth, John F. 
Shackelford, John T. Horthrop, James I. Metts, John B. Lord, 
Stephen Jewett, Henry G. Latimer, John M. Walker. The roll 
of living and dead is an honorable one and, notwithstanding un- 
pleasant recollections by some who were harshly treated, reflects 
honor upon the memory of him who trained them. He was 
always proud of his boys ; and well he might be, for it is a well- 
established fact that Mr. Jewett’s pupils were thoroughly pre- 
pared for college in all the necessary branches of their matricu- 
lation ; and that many who were unable, by the intervention of 
the war, to enter college, owed their comparative success in life 
largely to the early mental training under that able preceptor. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear Fiver 

A characteristic incident occurred in St. John’s Lodge of 
Masons a short time before Mr. Jewett’s death. A member of 
the fellowcraft had just been raised to the sublime degree of 
Master Mason, after a highly creditable examination, during 
which he exemplified the work of three degrees with remarkable 
accuracy, when Mr. Jewett arose, and with apparent pride and 
emotion expressed his profound satisfaction, remarking that the 
younger brother had been his pupil for four years prior to the 
War between the States. 

He was most cultivated and refined in his social intercourse, 
which was characterized by an urbanity entirely at variance 
with his professional habit. 

His estimable wife died some years before him, leaving an 
only daughter, who was at the close of the war a beautiful and 
accomplished young lady. Miss Ella married Lieutenant Cr os- 
ley, of the United States Revenue-Cutter Service, hut she died 
long since, without issue. 

For several decades before the war Fort Johnston was garri- 
soned, and the many officers of the army quartered there added 
greatly to the social life of the Lower Cape Fear. At that period 
Smithville, being so easily accessible by steamer, was the favor- 
ite summer resort of Wilmington families ; and there the belles 
and epauletted beaux found congenial pastime, as described by 
Mr. Jewett in the following lines: 


Farewell, dear Smithville! from thy pleasant halls 
I haste reluctant whither duty calls: 

But for a moment let me linger here 
To trace a grateful word and drop a tear. 

For who e’er left thy hospitable shore 
And blest and wept thee not forever more? 

If rash ambition tempts me to aspire 
To seize the poet’s pen, without his fire, 

And, all unskillful, venture to rehearse 
Thy lofty virtues in heroic verse, 

Appear, O Muse propitious, and supply 

Such words and thoughts as fit the purpose high. 

All hail, great Smithville! great in origin: 

For did not Smith thy great career begin? 

Great in thy old renown, when heroes bore 
Their martial honors up and down thy shore, 

And, strutting stiff, in yellow epaulettes, 

Lured many a fair one to their gaudy nets. 

Interesting Memories 


Great in thy battlefield, our garrison, 

Where Cupid’s contests still are lost and won; 
Great in the outspread beauty of thy bay, 

Great in the tiny fleets that on it play, 

Great in thy sunshine; in thy moonlight, great, 
Great in thy risings and thy sittings, late, 

Great in thy sandy streets and spreading shades, 
Great in fandangoes, frolics, and charades, 

Great -in thy pig-fish, oysters, trout, and clams, 
Great in thy raging tempests, great in calms, 

Great in thy tete-a-tetes at dewy e’en, 

And great, ah! very great, in crinoline. 

What visions rise, what memories crowd around 
My toiling pen at that suggestive sound! 

But thickest cluster in the haunts of song, 

Where crinolines, in scores, are wont to throng. 

And thou! oh, sacred temple of The Nine, 

Where wit and beauty spread their chains divine, 
How shall I style thee? for thy noble name 
Hath not been soiled by lips of common fame. 

They call thee “cottage,” but that name I scout, 
And here forever blot the scandal out. 

No name plebeian, couched in vulgar words, 

Is thy true title: thou’rt a “House of Lords.” 

What though thou standest on Columbia’s soil, 

Her sons would scorn thy regal halls to spoil; 
Here, noble lords and beauteous ladies meet, 

And their fair queen with loyal homage greet: 
Here, too, ’twas mine to fill an humble place, 

And taste, full oft, the sweets of royal grace. 
Methinks I see thee as I oft have seen, 

Spangled with beauty, set in crinoline. 

The fair Columbia stands with stately grace; 
Benignant smiles illumine her queenly face. 
Victoria’s throne was bootless to confer 
Imperial dignity on such as her. 

And yet she stooped — what folly to record — 

The royal lady stooped — to wed a Lord. 

Then we turn to the court; and first observe 
The lady yonder, with the restless nerve; 

“A female archer”: mark her pungent wit, 

In random shots, regardless whom they hit. 

But most she loves to shoot the pedagogues, 

As wanton boys, for pastime, pelt the frogs. 

In youth she wore the honored name of Brown; 
“My name,” sighed she, “is but a common noun.” 

A son of science, with no heart of stone, 

O’erheard her plaint, and offered her his own. 

So wit and genius she vouchsafed to link 
Forever with the rare name of Frink. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

On yonder face, so beautiful to view, 

How blend the lily’s with the rose’s hue; 

Her flashing eye, in jetty radiance burns, 

And almost scorches him on whom it turns. 

Forth fly thy arrowy missiles; maid, beware, 

Lest you should pierce the heart you mean to spare. 

You may not dream that flickering hopes and fears 
Hang trembling on a glance of Addie Meares. 

Upon that ample brow, where jeweled thought 
Is fashioned and with graceful polish wrought, 

O’erhangs an eye of rare intelligence, 

Whose lightest glance reveals the solid sense. 

Deepest and dark, with grave and pensive ray, 

Save when the radiant smiles around it play, 

Who does not see through the clear, pure light 
That ever guides the steps of Anna (W) right? 

My eager pen, impatient to advance, 

Compels me hence to take a hastier glance, 

And scatter gems along the glowing line, 

More brilliant than adorn Golconda’s mine. 

Brown, Rankin, Cowan, Walker, Prioleau, 

Shall in one brilliant constellation glow. 

I gaze bedazzled, yet delight me still 

My modest “Valley” and the favorite “Hill” (Miss Lossie). 

But can we, Muse, the starry sphere portray, 

By painting separate every golden ray? 

Then let my pen this endless task resign, 

And bid our stars in blended glory shine. 

But hark! from rosy lips there pour along 
The echoing walls the mingled streams of song. 

Quick to the soul the conquering floods make way 
And song and beauty hold divinest sway. 

Apollo could but listen, gaze, admire, 

And hate, henceforth, his goddess and his lyre. 

Oh sacred, cherished spot! to yield thee up 
Is gall and wormwood in my parting cup. 

Farewell, farewell! May wintry winds 
Strain gently on thy braces and thy pins, 

May no rude storm unroof thee and expose 
Thy naked ribs to their remorseless blows. 

May time and whitewash still thy years prolong 
To shelter beauty, genius, worth, and song. 

Farewell, ye summer pleasures, bright and brief, 

That fade and fall before the early leaf; 

With summer suns thy leaves again return. 

The life that bare you, there may fill an urn. 

Farewell, ye warblers, matrons, maidens, all, 

Whose forms are wont to grace our festive hall. 
Farewell! May Heaven His sweetest peace diffuse 
Through each pure breast as sink the gentle dews. 

Interesting Memories 


’Neath all His shielding aegis may you rest, 
With life, health, love, and friendship blest. 
And when from raging summer’s heats 
Impelled again to flee, 

You grace once more the cool retreats, 

May I be there to see. 


Col. James G. Burr, one of our oldest and most highly es- 
teemed citizens, died November 13, 1898, aged 80 years. 

He was born in Wilmington and was prominent in all of its 
stirring events. For many years he was cashier of the Bank of 
Cape Eear. During the War between the States, he was colonel 
of the regiment of Home Guards. After the war he resumed 
his profession as a banker. Later, he was assistant postmaster 
of Wilmington under O. G. Parsley, Esq., during Cleveland’s 

Colonel Burr, like his brother Talcott, had fine literary at- 
tainments, and possessed a discriminating mind, together with 
an admirable judgment of men. He was much interested in 
local history and was regarded as an authority with reference to 
important dates and deeds on the Cape Eear. He wrote with 
precision and elegance, and contributed many interesting narra- 
tives to the local press over his nom de plume , “Senex.” 

Associated all through life with our leading citizens, he knew 
them well, and his sketches, valuable for their accuracy, have 
served to rescue from oblivion the memory of many who, in 
their day, adorned our community. 

Attracted by mutual interest in the tales and traditions of 
the Cape Eear, many years before his death we became devoted 
friends ; and, in recognition of my high regard for him, he 
voluntarily made over to me all his manuscripts and publica- 
tions, of which he had a large accumulation. A few weeks be- 
fore his last illness, however, he came to my office and confided 
to me that he had destroyed all his manuscripts. 

He explained that he had been prevailed upon to republish 
the distressing story of the desecration of the Holy Sacrament 
by a party of twelve local debauchees in the early days of the 
town, and that he had been reproached repeatedly that morning 
by some descendants of those involved in that horrible affair; 
that he had then returned home and made a bonfire in his back- 
yard of all the manuscripts which he had promised to leave me. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

The condensation of his sketch of the Thalian Association, 
and the article on Johnson Hooper and the British consul, how- 
ever, may serve to keep his memory green. 


In 1871 Col. James G. Burr performed a grateful service to 
the community by publishing a pamphlet of fifty pages giving 
an account of the Thalian Association, together with sketches 
of many of its members, from which the following has been con- 
densed : 

When, during the French and Indian War, Col. James Innes 
was in command of all the colonial forces in Virginia, he made 
his will, in which he devised a large part of his estate, after the 
death of his wife, for the use of a free school for the benefit of 
the youth of North Carolina. A quarter of a century later the 
Legislature appointed trustees of “Innes Academy,” and in 
1788 subscriptions were taken up among the citizens, and the 
three lots next north of Princess between Third and Fourth 
Streets were secured, and subsequently, by way of confirming 
the title, were purchased from the University “as escheated 
property of Michael Higgins, one of the original settlers of the 
town of Wilmington.” 1 

Before the completion of the academy building a theatrical 
corps had been organized in Wilmington, and an arrangement 
had been made between them and the trustees of the academy 
for the lower part of the building to be fitted up and used ex- 
clusively as a theatre ; and a perpetual lease was made, con- 
formably, to the Thalian Association. The building was erected 
about the year 1800, when the toym could boast of hardly more 
than 1,500 inhabitants. Years afterwards, the academy fell 
into ruin and was not used for educational purposes. The 
Thalian Association, however, continued to hold possession. 
Its claim was resisted by the University, and by way of com- 
promise the property was sold and purchased by the town, it 
being agreed that half the purchase money should be applied to 
the erection of a building with suitable rooms for theatrical 

iThe investigations of W. B. McKoy, Esq., show that this property was 
escheated, not because it had belonged to Higgins, but to two Tories. 

Interesting Memories 


Of the members of the first Thalian Association, the name of 
Col. Archibald McNeill 1 alone has been preserved. He was the 
star performer, and in his delineation of the character of Ham- 
let very few professional actors could excel him. 

After some years a second Thalian Association was organ- 
ized, among the members being Edward B. Dudley, William 
B. Meares, Charles J. Wright, James S. Green, William M. 
Green, Julius H. Walker, William C. Lord, James Telfair, 
Charles L. Adams, Dr. James F. McRee, Col. John D. Jones, 
Robert Rankin, William H. Halsey, Thomas Loring, John 
Cowan, and others not now remembered. 

Of Governor Dudley mention is elsewhere made. Mr. Meares 
was a lawyer of commanding influence, at one time coming 
within one vote of being elected to the Senate of the United 
States ; but, unhappily, he died suddenly, while yet in the full 
maturity of his powers. 

Charles J. Wright was an actor by intuition. He strode the 
boards with a majesty and grace that Cooper or Cook might 
have envied in their palmiest days. He was the eldest son of 
Judge J. G. Wright, and a lawyer, but became president of the 
Wilmington branch of the Bank of the State. His son, Lieut. 
William Henry Wright, graduated at the head of his class at 
West Point, Beauregard being next, and became eminent as an 
officer of the Engineer Corps. 

Julius Walker was an actor of extraordinary merit. He had 
great fondness for the drama, and had few equals as an amateur 

James S. Green, the treasurer of the Wilmington and Weldon 
Railroad Company from its organization till his death, in 1862, 
was unequaled as a comedian. He was an admirable type of 
the Cape Eear gentleman of the olden time, with a fund of 
anecdote and wit, and as a story-teller unrivaled. Passionately 
fond of music, he sang the plaintive ballads of the old days with 
great feeling and expression. 

Col. John D. Jones excelled in the character of Hamlet. 
Reared to the practice of the law, he early abandoned it for the 
more genial pursuits of literature and agriculture. He was 
speaker of the House of Commons, and presided with great 

iAt that time there were two McNeills, kinsmen, in Wilmington; 
Archibald, a grandson of Sir Charles Wright, the last royal governor of 
Georgia, and related to the Hasells and others; and Dr. Daniel McNeill, 
father of William Gibbs McNeill, the famous engineer, who was the 
grandfather of the celebrated James Abbott McNeill Whistler. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

ability. Later, be was naval officer of the port and president of 
tbe Bank of Cape Fear. 

Dr. Janies F. McRee 1 was one of tbe foremost men in bis 
profession, in tbis or any other State ; a most successful practi- 
tioner and a bold and brilliant operator. He bad great scholarly 
attainments, was fond of tbe classics, wrote with ease and ele- 
gance, was equally at home in tbe researches of philosophy and 
tbe mazes of metaphysics, tbe natural sciences and tbe polite 
literature of tbe day. 

William M. Green, later bishop of Mississippi, remarkable 
for intelligence, suavity of manner, and for a beauty somewhat 
feminine, and David M. Miller, father of tbe late lamented Col. 
James T. Miller, played with success tbe role of female char- 

William C. Lord sustained tbe role of tbe sentimental gen- 
tleman with great dignity and propriety. He was one of 
nature’s noblemen. 

John Cowan was admirable in genteel comedy. His tine 
figure, graceful manner, and correct gesticulations appeared to 
great advantage on the stage. He was the eldest son of Col. 
Thomas Cowan, one of tbe old settlers of tbe town, and was one 
of tbe handsomest men of tbe day. He became cashier of tbe 
Bank of tbe State. 

William H. Halsey frequently appeared on tbe stage and 
was as natural as life. He was prominent in bis profession, and 
left tbe reputation of a lawyer of great learning. 

Charles L. Adams played well bis part among tbe choice 
spirits of those days and added much to tbe success of their 
representations by bis versatility of talent, knowledge of scenic 
effects, and unfailing good humor. 

Thomas Loring was an excellent performer in tbe higher 
walks of tragedy. He bad a face of marked expression, a voice 
deep-chested and sonorous, and in bis rendition of tbe characters 
of Shylock and of the Duke of Gloucester there was an earnest- 
ness and a passion not easily forgotten. Mr. Loring was one 
of tbe best known editors in tbe State. 

After an existence of some years tbis organization ceased, but 
not until it bad been of much service to tbe community. Hot 
only bad it afforded entertainment, but it bad been still more 
beneficial in tbe development of talent and in fostering an inter- 
est in the drama, as well as disseminating culture generally 
among tbe citizens. Hor was it long before tbe association was 

Interesting Memories 


revived by another set of aspirants for the buskin who did not 
in point of talent disgrace their predecessors. 

Among them were Joseph A. Hill, Dr. Thomas H. Wright, 
Robert H. Cowan, Dr. James H. Dickson, Dr. John Hill, 
Lawrence D. Dorsey, John Nutt Brown, and many others. 
They played with very great success. 

Joseph A. Hill shone on the mimic stage, as he did upon the 
actual stage of life, with unfailing lustre. A son of William 
H. Hill and a grandson of John Ashe, he had no rival of his 
age as a debater and orator, and no superior of any age in 
North Carolina. 

Dr. Thomas H. Wright played female characters with great 
success. He became president of the Bank of Cape Fear. 

Robert H. Cowan was a very popular member of the associa- 
tion and bore a prominent part in all their representations. 
After preparing for the law, he abandoned it for agriculture. 

Dr. James H. Dickson was a prominent member of the asso- 
ciation, appeared frequently upon the stage, and was regarded 
as an excellent performer. Embracing the profession of medi- 
cine, he sprang at once into a large and lucrative practice. He 
possessed great power — was a student all his life, a lover of 
books and a thinker, a man of scholarly attainment and fond of 
scientific study. He fell at his post of duty, one of the earliest 
victims of the fearful epidemic of 1862. 

Dr. John Hill frequently appeared upon the boards, always 
in genteel comedy and as the gentleman of the piece, which 
harmonized well with his graceful figure and easy manner. 
He was a remarkably handsome man. Endowed with versatile 
talents, he graced equally the stage and the drawing-room. 
While eminent as a physician, he achieved a particular fame for 
his literary accomplishments. He became president of the 
Bank of Cape Fear, and was known as Dr. John “Bank” Hill, 
to distinguish him from his kinsman, Dr. James H. Hill. 

Eventually this association, like its predecessor, dissolved; 
but there came along a strolling company of actors who leased 
the theatre for two or three seasons, and after their departure, 
interest in theatricals having revived, a third organization was 

The members of the new association well sustained the repu- 
tation of the former players. For a long time they offered the 
only source of amusement to the public, and crowded houses 
always greeted their performances. On the list of members we 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

find the names of William Cameron, John S. James, L. H. 
Marsteller, Bela H. Jacobs, P. W. Fanning, John MacRae, 
Augustus Ramousin, Joshua James, E. H. Wingate, J. F. 
Gianople, J. P. Brownlow, A. A. Brown, J. McColl, W. E. 
Blaney, E. Withington, Daniel Sherwood, C. Manning, William 
Lowry, W. H. Peden, Dr. W. J. Price, R. J. Dorsey, Daniel 
Dickson, Roger Moore, W. A. Allen. 

William Cameron was a horn actor, possessing great versa- 
tility of talents, and was passionately fond of theatrical amuse- 
ments. Later in life he removed farther South. 

Lewis H. Marsteller, a descendant of Col. Lewis D. Mars- 
teller, distinguished in the Revolution and one of the pallbearers 
of General Washington, at an early age came to Wilmington 
from Virginia. He played the sentimental gentleman, and was 
easy and natural on the stage. He was at one time the most 
popular man in the county and was never defeated before the 
people. He was collector of customs and clerk of the court. 

Price, Jacobs, Wingate, Brown, Moore, Withington, Ramou- 
sin, Gianople, Brownlow, and Dickson were all good actors and 
reflected credit on the association. 

There were but few better amateur performers than John S. 
J ames. His conception and delineation of the powerfully drawn 
character of Pescara in The Apostate , equaled and in many 
instances surpassed the best efforts of celebrated performers. 
P. W. Fanning played the old man with such success that he is 
still remembered by the play-going people of those days as that 
“good old man” ; while Sherwood, with his fine figure and 
charming voice, bore off the palm in genteel comedy. 

This association after a time met the fate of its predecessors, 
and the theatre remained closed until about the year 1846, when 
the fourth and last association was organized. Its first presi- 
dent was Col. James T. Miller; Donald MacRae was secretary 
and treasurer; S. R. Ford, stage manager, and Dr. W. W. Har- 
riss, prompter. On the roll of members were the names of 
Thomas Sanford, William Hill, Adam Empie, E. D. Hall, J. G. 
Burr, E. A. Cushing, John C. MacRae, John R. Reston, John 
J. Hedrick, Talcott Burr, jr., A. O. Bradley, John Walker, 
W. W. Harriss, J. T. Watts, J. G. Green, W. H. Lippitt, 
John L. Meares, Donald MacRae, John Cowan, J. J. Lippitt, 
George Harriss, Mauger London, W. A. Burr, R. H. Cowan, 
H. W. Burgwyn, H. P. Russell, Edward Cantwell, J. B. Rus- 
sell, W. B. Meares, L. H. Pierce, W. D. Cowan, G. L. Dudley, 

Interesting Memories 


R. F. Langdon, E. A. Keith, E. M. Waddell, J. S. Williams, 
Robert Lindsay, Wilkes Morris, Eli W. Hall, W. M. Harriss, 

S. R. Eord, J. T. Miller, Alfred Martin, Stephen J ewett, A. H. 
VanBokkelen, T. C. Mcllhenny, E. J. Lord, J. A. Baker, 
A. M. Waddell, C. W. Myers, E. P. Poisson, J. H. Flanner, 
DuBrntz Cntlar, Edward Savage, Robert Strange, William 
Reston, J. R. London, George Myers, Henry Savage, James A. 
Wright, O. S. Baldwin, L. H. DeRosset, J. Hill Wright. 

“Of the merits of this company/’ says Colonel Bnrr, “it may 
not he proper for us to speak, as so many of its members are 
still living in our midst — suffice it to say that in ability and 
histrionic talent it was fully up to the standard of the preceding 
associations.” After much labor and expense in repairing the 
building, many delays, disappointments, and discouragements, 
the opening night at length arrived. The play was The Lady 
of Lyons , the afterpiece 9 Tis All a Farce , with the following 
cast of characters : 

The Lady of Lyons. 

Claude Melnotte 



Colonel Damas 


Mons. Deschappelles 


First Officer 

Second Officer 

Madame Deschappelles 


Widow Melnotte 

’Tis All a Faece. 



Don Gortes 

Don Testy 


....William Hill 
... A. O. Bradley 
Talcott Burr, jr. 
. .Robert Lindsay 
....John Walker 

E. A. Keith 

..George Harriss 
. Donald MacRae 
. ...G. L. Dudley 
. . .W. B. Meares 

J. T. Watts 

J. J. Lippitt 

E. D. Hall 

...Adam Empie 
Mauger London 
.E. A. Cushing 
. .J. J. Hedrick 

The theatre was filled to its utmost capacity with a brilliant 
and excited audience, for to add to the interest of the occasion 
the names of the debutants of popular favor had been kept a 
profound secret. There was not one among them who had ever 
appeared in front of the footlights, and the excitement and ap- 
prehension, therefore, behind the scenes, incident to a first ap- 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

pearance, can only be appreciated by those who have under- 
gone a similar ordeal. The performance was a great success, 
each actor was perfect in his part and remarkably correct in the 
delineation of the character assumed. The machinery of the 
stage, that most vital adjunct to the success of all theatrical 
exhibitions, was admirably managed, and the applause, long 
and continued at the close of the performance, testified in lan- 
guage too plain to be misunderstood the hearty approval of the 
delighted audience. Many representations followed with equal 
success, and the association soon became a permanent institu- 
tion. Allied to the entire community, as nearly all its members 
were, by the ties of consanguinity or business relations, it was 
felt that their characters were sufficient guaranty that nothing 
would be presented that would shock the sensibility of the mod- 
est or wound the piety of the devout. The association modestly 
but confidently appealed to the public for generous support. 
Need we say how such an appeal was responded to by a Wil- 
mington audience? Their well-known liberality was bestowed 
with no niggard hand, and the association flourished beyond 
measure and became immensely popular. 

The great ability displayed by the members of this last asso- 
ciation was fully recognized and appreciated by all classes of 
society, but as most of them are still living and are residents 
of our city, it would be rather indelicate to particularize, and 
we can therefore only refer to them in general terms of com- 
mendation; but, as memory brings up the vanished past and 
the virtues of the departed, we may surely pause, if but for a 
moment, to lay a few mosses upon the mounds of some of those 
who joined with us in sportive glee and shared alike our sorrows 
and our joys. 

James T. Miller, the first president of the association, was 
very active and instrumental in perfecting the organization, but 
never appeared upon the stage. He took great interest in its 
success and was always very busy behind the scenes during every 
performance. Mr. Miller became quite prominent as a party 
leader, served in the House of Commons, was mayor of the town 
and also chairman of the Court of Pleas and Quarter Sessions, 
and from 1854 till his death was collector of customs. Poor 
Miller ! We miss thy familiar form, thy pleasant greeting, thy 
hearty laugh, thy harmless idiosyncrasies; we miss thee from 
the favorite spots where friends did mostly congregate to while 
away the time in pleasant converse and innocent amusement, 

Interesting Memories 


and thou, the centre of attraction, making all merry with thy 
playful humor. In the vigor of stalwart manhood, Miller was 
struck down by the fearful pestilence of 1862, and our city 
mourned the loss of a most useful, most popular, and most esti- 
mable citizen. 

Eli W. Hall was an admirable light comedian, a capital repre- 
sentative of humorous characters and an actor of great promise 
and versatility of talent. He sometimes essayed the higher 
walks of tragedy, commanding the attention of the audience by 
the power of his representations. He became a lawyer and com- 
manded an extensive practice. He was elected to the Senate in 
1860, 1862, and again in 1864, and won fame in the legislative 
halls as a ready and able debater. He possessed a brilliant 
imagination and vivid fancy, with a wonderful command of 
language, and few men could address a popular assembly with 
more eloquence and effect. He was a courteous, honorable, well- 
read gentleman, of strict integrity, entirely devoid of ostentation 
or egotism, and justly popular in all classes of society. 

Thomas Sanford was the oldest member of the association, 
and one of the best amateur performers that ever appeared in 
Wilmington. He was entirely at home upon the stage ; his style 
was easy, graceful, and natural, and his voice, of remarkable 
power and compass, never failed him under any circumstances. 
He had had much experience in theatricals, for in early youth 
he was a member of a Thespian association in Philadelphia. 
Edwin Forrest, the eminent tragedian, was also a member of 
the same company, and at that time Sanford was regarded as 
the better actor of the two. He was the star of the association, 
always appeared in leading characters, and his appearance in 
any character and on any occasion was always a success. 

Talcott Burr, jr., not only excelled in genteel comedy hut was 
most excellent in the higher branches of dramatic art. Gifted 
with a strong and discriminating mind, which extensive reading 
had highly improved and cultivated, he at first devoted himself 
to the practice of law, but finding it unsuited to his taste, 
adopted the profession of public journalist, in which so many 
men have risen to eminence and usefulness. 

John R. Reston — who does not remember and who did not 
love J ohn Reston ? One of the most amiable, kindhearted, gen- 
erous beings that ever lived; guileless as a child, a creature of 
impulse and of the most unsuspecting generosity; a friend to 
every one and an enemy only to himself, he was never so happy 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

as when engaged in some disinterested act of kindness or minis- 
tering to the pleasure of others. 

Nature had been lavish in her gifts to him. No one could he 
in his company, for however short a time, without feeling the 
influence of his rich and unctious humor, his genial bonhomie , 
his entire unselfishness, and not admire, also, the exhibition of 
that virtue which so few of us possess, the desire to avoid, even 
in the slightest degree, anything that might give pain to others. 
He had a fine ear for music and sang with wonderful sweetness 
and expression; his voice was not cultivated, but his tone was 
singularly soft and perfect, like the mournful sighing of the 
breeze through the lofty pines of the forest. We were boys 
together, and I knew him well; “a fellow of infinite jest, of 
most excellent fancy, whose flashes of merriment were wont to 
set the table in a roar.” Green be the turf above and lightly 
may it rest upon him, for the earth covers not a heart more 
generous nor one more entirely unselfish. 

Dr. Alfred O. Bradley displayed histrionic talent of a very 
high order. He was inimitable as Sir Able Handy, most excel- 
lent as Max Harkaway, in London Assurance , and as Beauseant, 
in The Lady of Lyons , was decidedly the best representative of 
that character we have ever seen on any stage. In the beautiful 
play Feudal Times he appeared as Lord Angus, a fiery represent- 
ative of the haughty Douglas, and played it with a vehemence 
and power that astonished all who witnessed the performance. 

James A. Wright was one of the most youthful members of 
the association, and his career upon the stage, though very brief, 
was full of promise. Lew men in our State — few men in any 
State of his age — had brighter prospects of a more brilliant 
future. Descended from one of the oldest and most influential 
families on the Cape Lear, he inherited in large degree the vir- 
tues for which they have always been so justly distinguished. 
Nature had been kind to him, and education had given polish 
and brilliancy to the jewels with which he was endowed and that 
adorned his character. But alas ! for human hopes and human 
calculations. The dark cloud of the War between the States, 
whose mutterings had been heard for years, at length hurst sud- 
denly upon us, and the State called upon her sons to go forth 
and battle for the right. He was among the first to obey the call, 
and at the head of his company marched to Virginia to meet 
the hostile invaders, and at Mechanicsville, at the early age of 
twenty-six, he sealed his devotion to his country with his heart’s 

Interesting Memories 


We have not the space to speak, as we would like to do, of 
the merits of Cushing, Hill, Lippitt, Cowan, Pierce, Waddell, 
and Stephen Jewett. They played well their parts in the 
world’s great drama, and “after life’s fitful fever, they sleep 
well” in the vast and silent city of the dead. 

This association continued to occupy and use the theatre 
building until the old building was sold, as already mentioned. 
The authorities of the town had determined upon the erection 
of a city hall on the site of the Old Academy, and purchased the 
property for that purpose. The association received one-half 
of the purchase money. Thalian Hall was the result. Mr. 
Donald MacRae was at that time president of the association, 
and to his energy, perseverance, and acknowledged business 
ability are we indebted for the beautiful theatre which reflects 
so much credit upon our city. The new building was leased by 
Mr. Marchant, a well-known theatrical manager, and opened to 
the public in October, 1859. The members of the association 
had now grown older and were more averse to appearing upon 
the stage, and the organization found itself hampered with a 
heavy debt. Under all these circumstances, a proposition was 
made to the authorities of the town that if they would assume 
the responsibilities of the association, all the right, title, and 
interest in that part of the building used for theatrical purposes 
would be surrendered. This was acceded to — the transfers 
made in proper form — and the Wilmington Thalian Association 
as a theatrical organization ceased to exist. 

However, it is worthy of note that before its dissolution, the 
Wilmington Thalian Association contributed a stone, inscribed 
with its name, to he placed in the monument to George Wash- 
ington in Washington City, and that stone, now imbedded in the 
monument to the Father of his Country, perpetuates its memory. 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 


By James G. Burr. 

The impressions made upon the mind in childhood and youth 
are always the most vivid and enduring, and though in the 
daily pursuits of life, in the arduous struggle for success and 
the jarring conflicts of adverse elements, those impressions may 
for a time be obscured or forgotten, yet they are never lost. As 
age creeps upon us and we live in recollection more than we do 
in hope, that longing for the past of our boyhood cleaves to us 
all. Our thoughts fly backward to the scenes and associations 
of our youth and fasten themselves upon them with a longing 
that nothing else can satisfy. The present and the future are 
alike unheeded, for our yearning hearts centre only upon the 
days that have faded into distance. At such moments, inci- 
dents the most trivial will excite emotions to which we have long 
been strangers — a withered leaf, a strip of faded ribbon that 
hound the ringlets of a lost and loved one, a line traced by a 
hand long moulded into dust, a little word in kindness spoken, 
a motion or a tear, will evoke recollections that genius can not 
trace or inspiration fathom. 

This train of thought has been excited by finding in a pack- 
age of old papers that had long lain hid, some lines written 
many, many years ago by one who has long since passed to his 
rest, Johnson Hooper, a Wilmington hoy. He was the son of 
Archibald Maclaine Hooper, one of the most accomplished 
scholars of his day, who edited for a number of years the Cape 
Fear Recorder , the only newspaper published in Wilmington 
for a long period. He was a near relative of William Hooper, 
one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. The 
family removed to Montgomery, Ala., where Johnson became 
connected with the Montgomery Mail , a newspaper of extensive 
circulation and great influence. He found time, however, from 
his arduous duties to indulge his humorous fancies, and while 
connected with that paper, gave the world several humorous 
works of great merit, viz. : Taking the Census, Captain Simon 
Suggs, and others which gave him rank among the best humor- 
ous writers of the day. He died in Richmond, Va., shortly 
after the transfer of the Confederate Government to that city. 

Nearly, if not quite eighty years ago, an Englishman, Mr. 
Anthony Milan, was British consul at the port of Wilmington. 

Interesting Memories 


He was an educated gentleman, but possessed certain peculiari- 
ties to an unusual and disagreeable extent, was dogmatic and 
overbearing in disposition, and exhibited continuously a 
haughty, aristocratic bearing, which he took no pains to conceal. 
His “personal pulchritude’ 7 was immense, but he was always 
scrupulously neat in his attire, wearing fine broadcloth and 
ruffled shirts of spotless whiteness. A gold-framed eyeglass 
dangled from a ribbon around his neck and was conspicuously 
displayed upon his breast, while a number of massive gold seals 
hung pendant from his watch fob. He was altogether English, 
haughty and presumptuous, with a growl at everything and at 
almost everybody, and could not tolerate democracy in any form. 
He was an exaggerated type of class intolerance in the official 
life of the town, and his pompous air and personal decorations 
were the delightful derision of the small boy. 

Upon one occasion, at the corner of Market and Eront Streets, 
Mr. Milan was discussing with an important functionary a 
question of public affairs in the presence of the newly elected 
constable — the only policeman — who incautiously interjected 
the remark that in his opinion, etc. Mr. Milan stared at him 
with unmitigated contempt — “And pray, sir,” said he, “what 
right have you to an opinion?” ( Temporn mutantur, et nos 
mutamur in illis.) 

About that time a ship had been built at the southern ex- 
tremity of the town, and the day appointed for the launching 
had arrived. As the building of a ship in those days was quite 
an event in the history of the town, almost the entire population 
turned out to witness the launching, and an immense crowd 
gathered on the wharves and the surrounding hills. Of course, 
the British consul was there in full dress. The tide unfortu- 
nately was too low at the time for the ship to float when she left 
the ways; she grounded, and just then Mr. Milan, by some acci- 
dent, fell overboard, but was quickly hooked up out of the river 
all dripping wet, with his bald head glistening in the sun like 
burnished gold. He was not at all injured by his involuntary 
ducking, but excessively chagrined. Of course, the boys were 
delighted, for he was exceedingly unpopular with them, and the 
next day Johnson Hooper, one of the youngsters, produced the 
following lines, which exhibit, even at that early age, his playful 
fancies : 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear Elver 


Ye who pretend to disbelieve 
In fixed degrees of fate, 

Give, I beseech you, listening ear 
To what I now relate. 

It is about the launching of 
A stately ship I tell, 

And of a fearful accident 
That then and there befell 

To one well known to all in town, 

A man of portly size, 

Who carries watch seals in his fob 
And glasses in his eyes. 

He holds a high position from 
His Majesty Britannic, 

And claims to be a member 
Of the breed aristocratic. 

He looks with sovereign contempt 
On those whose daily toil 
Brings out in rich abundance 
The products of the soil. 

He does not care a pin for him 
Who weareth not fine clothes, 

And he uses linen cambric 
With which to wipe his nose. 

He has no need for comb or brush, 

For his cheeks are rosy red, 

And a microscopic lens can find 
No hair upon his head. 

His boots are always polished bright, 
His beaver sleek as silk, 

His ruffled shirt is clean and white 
As a bowl of new-skimmed milk. 

But to our fate — the morning sun 
Shone bright upon that day, 

When all our people through the streets 
Most gaily took their way 

Down to the docks, where on the stocks 
The gallant ship was seen, 

Decked out in brilliant colors 
Of blue and red and green. 

A monstrous crowd was gathered there, 
In feverish excitement, 

To see the ship glide off the ways 
Into the watery element. 

Interesting Memories 


The British consul with his glass 
Stuck in his nether eye, 

Was there in force, for could the ship 
Be launched, and he not by? 

She starts, she’s off, a shout went up 
In one tumultuous roar, 

That rolled o’er Eagles’ Island and 
Was heard on Brunswick shore. 

Pull royally the ship slid down 
Towards the foaming tide, 

While cheer on cheer from every lip 
Went up on every side. 

She passed along towards the stream, 
Majestically grand — 

When suddenly she stopped. Alas! 

She grounded in the sand. 

And there she would have always stuck 
And never more have stirred, 

Had not the scene I now relate 
Most happily occurred. 

Just at that moment when she stopped, 
With many a shake and shiver, 

The pompous British consul slipped 
And tumbled in the river. 

The Cape Fear rose three feet or more 
As Anthony went under, 

The waves they beat upon the shore 
In peals of living thunder. 

The ship was lifted from the sand, 

And like the lightning’s gleam, 

She glided out into the deep, 

And floated in the stream. 

“All honor then to Anthony!” 

Was heard on every side. 

And should we build another ship 
And scant should be the tide, 

May he be there, and gently drop 
His carcass in the sea; 

That ship will float, it matters not 
How low the tide may be. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 


(From the Autobiography of Joseph Jefferson.) 

After mentioning that he had engaged a comedian, Sir Wil- 
liam Don, an English nobleman six feet six inches tall, Jeffer- 
son wrote : 

“Sir William went with us to Wilmington, North Carolina, 
where we opened with the stock, he appearing at the beginning 
of the second week. The audience here did not like his acting ; 
they seemed to prefer our domestic goods to the imported article. 
He saw this, hut did not seem to mind it, and so bowed to the 
situation. He became very much attached to the company and 
remained with us some time, joining in our fishing and boating 
parties. His animal spirits were contagious ; and as we had no 
rehearsals, the mornings at least were devoted to amusement. 
We would do the most boyish and ridiculous things. Three or 
four of us, himself the central figure, would go through extrava- 
gant imitations of the circus and acrobatic feats that were then 
in vogue. The Bounding Brothers of the Pyrenees was a par- 
ticular favorite with him. We would pretend to execute the 
most dangerous feats of strength — lifting imaginary weights, 
climbing on one another’s shoulders, and then falling down in 
grotesque and awkward attitudes, and suddenly straightening 
up and bowing with mock dignity to an imaginary audience. 
Once he did an act called The Sprite of the Silver Shower , pre- 
tending to he a little girl, and tripping into the circus ring with 
a mincing step. Then, with a shy look, he would put his finger 
in his mouth, and mounting a table would go through a dar- 
ing bareback feat. Nothing that I ever saw was more extrav- 
agant. * * * 

“The next fall, 1852, we resolved to make another trial of 
our fortunes in the Southern circuit. Our limited means com- 
pelled us to adopt the most economical mode of transportation 
for the company. It was settled, therefore, that we, the mana- 
gers, should arrive at least a week in advance of the opening 
season ; our passage must he by rail, while the company were to 
proceed by sea. There was in those days a line of schooners 
that plied between Wilmington, N. C., and New York. The 
articles of transportation from the South consisted mainly of 
yellow pine tar and resin, which cargo was denominated ‘naval 
stores.’ Feeling confident that we could procure passage for our 

Interesting Memories 


company by contracting with one of these vessels to take them 
to Wilmington, we determined to conclude a bargain with the 
owners. The day was fixed for their departure, and Mr. Ellsler 
and I went down to the wharf at Peck Slip to see them off. It 
was an ill-shaped hulk, with two great, badly repaired sails 
flapping against her clumsy and foreboding masts. The deck 
and sides were besmeared with the sticky remnants of her last 
importation, so that when our leading actor, who had been seated 
on the taffrail, arose to greet his managers, he was unavoidably 
detained. There was handsome John Crocher, our juvenile 
actor, leaning with folded arms and a rueful face against an 
adhesive mast ; Mrs. Pay, the first old woman, with an umbrella 
in one hand and a late dramatic paper in the other, sitting on a 
coil of rope, and unconsciously ruining her best black dress, 
etc., etc. It was a doleful picture. Our second comedian, who 
was the reverse of being droll on the stage, but who now and 
then ventured on a grim joke off it with better success, told me 
in confidence that they all had been lamenting their ill-tarred 
fate. As we watched the wretched old craft being towed away 
to sea, we concluded that we should never forgive ourselves if 
our comrades were never heard of again. On our arrival in 
Wilmington the days were spent in preparing the dusty old 
rat-trap of a theatre for the opening, and our nights in wonder- 
ing if our party were safe. The uneasiness was not lessened, 
either, by the news that there had been bad weather off Hatteras. 
Within a week, however, they arrived, looking jaded and miser- 
able. Another week for rest and rehearsal, and our labors began. 

“Comedy and tragedy were dished up, and I may say, hashed 
up, alternately, as, for instance, Monday, Colman’s comedy of 
The Poor Gentleman, fancy dances by the soubrette, comic 
songs by the second comedian, concluding with the farce of The 
Spectre Bridegroom. The next evening we gave Romeo and 
Juliet. I felt that the balcony scene should have some atten- 
tion, and I conceived a simple and economical idea that would 
enable me to produce the effect in a manner ‘hitherto unparal- 
leled in the annals of the stage.’ Skirmishing about the wharves 
and the ship-chandlers, I chanced to light upon a job lot of 
empty candle boxes. By taking a quantity the cardboards were 
thrown in, and nothing makes a finer or more imposing but un- 
substantial balustrade than cardboard. The boxes, placed one 
by one on top of each other and painted a neat stone color, form 
a pleasing architectural pile. The scene opened with a backing 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

of something supposed to represent the distant city of Verona, 
with my new balcony in the foreground. All seemed to be go- 
ing well till presently there came the sound of half-suppressed 
laughter from the audience. The laughter increased, till at last 
the whole house had discovered the mishap. Juliet retreated 
in amazement and Romeo rushed off in despair, and down came 
the curtain. I rushed upon the stage to find out what had oc- 
curred, when to my horror I discovered that one of the boxes 
had been placed with the unpainted side out, on which was em- 
blazoned a semicircular trade-mark, setting forth that the very 
cornerstone of Juliet’s balcony contained twenty pounds of the 
best ‘short sixes.’ ” 


By Joseph Jefferson. 

(Written by Mr. Jefferson for his friend Mr. H. M. Flagler, and given by Mr. Flagler 
to his friend Mr. James Sprunt.) 

Two caterpillars crawling on a leaf 
By some strange accident in contact came; 

Their conversation, passing all belief, 

Was the same argument, the very same, 

That has been “proed and conned” from man to man, 

Yea, ever since this wondrous world began. 

The ugly creatures 

Sluggish, dull, and blind, 

Devoid of features 
That adorn mankind. 

Were vain enough, in dull and wordy strife, 

To speculate upon a future life. 

The first was optimistic, full of hope; 

The second, quite dyspeptic, seemed to mope. 

Said number one, “I’m sure of our salvation.” 

Said number two, “I’m sure of our damnation; 

Our ugly forms alone would seal our fate 
And bar our entrance through the golden gate. 

Suppose that death should take us unawares, 

How could we climb the golden stairs? 

If maidens shun us as they pass us by, 

Would angels bid us welcome in the sky? 

I wonder what great crimes we have committed 
That leave us so forlorn and so unpitied; 

Perhaps we’ve been ungrateful, unforgiving: 

’Tis plain to me that life’s not worth the living.” 

“Come, come, cheer up,” the jovial worm replied, 

“Let’s take a look upon the other side; 

Interesting Memories 


Suppose we can not fly like moths or millers, 

Are we to blame for being caterpillars? 

Will that same God that doomed us crawl the earth, 
A prey to every bird that’s given birth, 

Forgive our captor as he eats and sings, 

And damn poor us because we have not wings? 

If we can’t skim the air like owl or bat, 

A worm will turn ‘for a’ that.’ ” 

They argued through the summer; autumn nigh, 

The ugly things composed themselves to die; 

And so to make their funeral quite complete, 

Each wrapped him in his little winding-sheet. 

The tangled web encompassed them full soon; 

Each for his coffin made him a cocoon. 

All through the winter’s chilling blast they lay, 

Dead to the world, aye, dead as human clay. 

Lo, Spring comes forth with all her warmth and love; 
She brings sweet justice from the realms above; 

She breaks the chrysalis, she resurrects the dead; 
Two butterflies ascend, encircling her head. 

And so this emblem shall forever be 
Unfailing sign of immortality. 


By Walker Meares. 

In 1850, when the great showman, P. T. Barnum, announced 
that he had arranged with Jenny Lind for an American tour, 
the country went wild with excitement, and when she arrived 
in New York on a Sunday afternoon in September of that year, 
the metropolis turned out en masse to greet her, while the Stars 
and Stripes and the Swedish ensign floated above the scene in 
commingled glory. The New York Herald of the following day 
devoted six columns to the event — a mere prelude to the volumes 
to be written later, as the triumphal passage of the great singer 
swept southward to Cuba. Had the racy Punch not said : “To 
call Jenny Lind the Swedish Nightingale is a compliment to the 
bird, which will put an additional feather in his cap — or rather 
in his tail — for the remainder of his existence” ? And had not 
the whole world heard of the sweetness of the spirit that found 
expression in that marvelous voice? Jenny Lind’s coming was 
more than a visit — it was a most blessed visitation. 

If any evidence of appreciation was lacking the box-office 
failed to record it. Not only in numbers hut in prices was the 
highest satisfaction realized. At the auction of seats at Castle 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Garden, it will be remembered, the batter Genin made himself 
famous, and later, rich, by paying $225 for the choice of seats, 
described as a a very handsome spring cushion, crimson velvet 
chair, placed right against the front of the centre post, and just 
opposite to Jenny Lind,” in order that he might ever after he 
thus visualized to the purchaser of hats. And the singer Ossian 
E. Dodge outdistanced Genin by paying $625 for a similar 
choice in Boston. But so far was Jenny Lind from mercenary 
intent, that during the first eight weeks of her American tour 
she gave more than $18,000 to charities — a magnificent scale of 
benevolence kept up during her two years’ tour in this country. 

December found her in Richmond, and her next engagement 
was in Charleston, S. 0., for the 26th and 29th of that month. 
Wilmington was in feverish excitement, especially as the diva 
must pass through this town. Should her neighbors, Richmond 
and Charleston, so far o’ertop her ? Not without supreme effort 
on her part. Accordingly, at a meeting of prominent ladies and 
gentlemen, a committee was appointed, and when the train from 
Richmond arrived at Wilmington this committee appeared at 
the depot with smiling countenances and a cart-load of flowers. 
The elegant and genial spokesman, Mr. James S. Green, pre- 
sented a bouquet in a gracious speech of welcome, and the charm- 
ing Jenny smiled her appreciation. The journey from the Vir- 
ginia city to Wilmington is described as the most uncomfortable 
she had made thus far in America, the Wilmington and Weldon 
Railroad having the reputation of being the worst in the United 
States. A traveling companion of the famous singer, however, 
described it as being newly laid, and, save for a short distance 
over which the old timbers of the road were plainly felt, remark- 
ably easy. The car the party occupied as far as Weldon he 
described as new, approximating somewhat the style in vogue 
on other roads, but from Weldon to Wilmington they are said 
to have been stowed away in a sort of caravanserai, described at 
one time as “a huge and comfortless box with shelves for bed- 
steads, something like the cabin of a Dutch sloop,” and at an- 
other as “a gigantic clothes press.” With these and other dis- 
comforts graphically named by her biographer freshly in mind, 
it is likely that Jenny Lind valued all the more the compensa- 
tion of a gracious reception at the end of her journey and that 
she listened with gratifying interest to the momentous question 
of the committee. Would she sing for Wilmington ? She would 
gladly if Mr. Barnum could arrange it, and Mr. Barnum pleas- 

Interesting Memories 


ingly acquiesced. “But, gentlemen/’ said he, “what is the capac- 
ity of your opera house ?” “About one hundred and fifty seats, 
but by utilizing the aisles two hundred can he provided/’ they 
told him, to which the showman laughingly replied, “Gen- 
tlemen, my orchestra would fill a large part of that space!” 
They withdrew to consider possible adjustments and shortly 
returned with complaisancy, saying it was all arranged, they 
would erect a platform in the centre of the street immediately 
in front of the theatre, so that everybody might hear ! The idea 
was diverting and the fair Swede laughed uncontrollably at 
being asked to sing to an open-air audience in the public streets, 
hut her warm heart quickened its heats at the thought of the 
simplicity that conceived the plan. Her contract with Mr. 
Barnum stipulated that she he allowed to hold concerts for 
charity when she saw fit. If they had only told her that Wil- 
mington had its orphans, its poor, and its sick, no doubt the 
open-air performance would have received serious consideration. 

They did not hear her sing, but they heard that marvelous 
voice in speech and they saw her. And she — she saw them, a 
people whose hospitality, simplicity, and inherent kindliness 
have never been surpassed. She declined an invitation by Queen 
Victoria to sing at a festival at court to come to America, 
largely, as she said, to see the American people, and we fancy 
that in the potpourri of precious impressions she carried away 
went a bit of fragrance from Wilmington. Perhaps, too, she 
regretted not accepting the open-air suggestion and waiting over 
a day, for on the night she sailed south on the steamer Gladiator 
from the Cape Pear city, there occurred one of the worst storms 
ever known along these shores. Three ships were lost on the 
Carolina coast about that time, and it was rumored that the 
Gladiator had grounded on Cape Bomain. She was thirty-four 
hours making the trip to Charleston, which then took hut seven- 
teen under ordinary weather conditions. She was reported lost, 
and the news was telegraphed to Hew York, hut corrected a 
dozen hours later; for, notwithstanding wind and weather, the 
exceptional seamanship of Capt. J. B. Smith took her at last 
into port at Charleston. Her tiller ropes were broken and she 
was sweeping in on shore. Another half hour, it is said, would 
probably have effected her complete destruction with all on 
hoard, hut Captain Smith steered her safely in and deposited 
Jenny Lind and two hundred other passengers on shore, where 
they were in a position to feel that seasickness is, after all, a 
little better than drowning. 

The War Between the States 


In a memorial of Mr. George Davis, the beloved leader of the 
Lower Cape Lear, the writer, whose affectionate admiration has 
continued with increasing veneration, said for his committee, 
on the occasion of a large assembly of representative citizens to 
honor Mr. Davis’ memory by suitable resolutions of respect : 
“In 1861 the shadow of a great national calamity appeared — 
the whole country was convulsed with conflicting emotions. The 
political leaders of North Carolina were divided upon the issue. 
Mr. Davis loved the Union, and steadfastly counseled modera- 
tion. His appointment by the Legislature as a member of the 
Peace Commission, to which further reference is made, created 
a feeling of absolute confidence in the minds of the conservative 

“The desire of the people of North Carolina was to see peace 
maintained, whether the Union was preserved or not, and for 
this purpose the Legislature on January 26, 1861, appointed 
commissioners to conventions to be held at Montgomery, Ala- 
bama, and Washington City. These commissioners were Hon. 
Thomas Ruffin, Hon. D. M. Barringer, Hon. David S. Reid, 
Hon. John M. Morehead, Hon. D. L. Swain, J. R. Bridgers, 
M. W. Ransom, and George Davis. Mr. Davis went to Washing- 
ton City as a member of the Peace Congress, which assembled 
on Lebruary 4, 1861. The moral weight of the position and the 
character of the gentlemen then and there assembled gave to the 
significance of the occasion portentous aspects. The Congress 
sat with closed doors ; ex-President Tyler was elected president, 
and on taking the chair made one of the most eloquent and 
patriotic speeches ever heard. This conference was in session 
until Lebruary 27, 1861, when Mr. Davis telegraphed: ‘The 

convention has just adjourned sine die , after passing seven 
articles of the report of the committee, much weakened. The 
territorial articles passed by a majority of one vote. North 
Carolina and Virginia voted against every article but one.’ 

“It is difficult for those of us who remember only the intense 
unanimity of the Southern people after the war was fairly in- 
augurated to realize how in those previous troublous days the 
[ 268 ] 

The War Between the States 


minds of men were perplexed by doubts. IJp to this time the 
Union sentiment in North Carolina had been in the ascendant. 
The people waited upon the result of the Peace Congress, and in 
this section especially was the decision of many reserved until 
Mr. Davis should declare his final convictions. His announce- 
ment of them marked an epoch in his life, and in the lives of 
countless others, for weal or woe.” 

Immediately upon his return home, the following correspond- 
ence took place : 

Wilmington, 2d March, 1861. 

Dear Sir: — Your friends and fellow-citizens are exceedingly anxious 
to hear from you with reference to the proceedings of the Peace Con- 
gress, and to have your opinion as to their probable effect in settling 
the distracting questions of the day. 

Will you be kind enough to give them a public address at such time 
as may suit your convenience? 

Respectfully yours, 

James H. Dickson. 

Robert H. Cowan. 

D. A. Lamont. 

Thomas Miller. 

Donald MacRae. 

Robert G. Rankin. 

James H. Chadbourn. 

A. H. VanBokkelen. 

To George Davis, Esq. O. G. Parsley. 

Wilmington, 2d March, 1861. 

Gentlemen: — Being under the necessity of leaving home tomorrow, I 
will comply with the request of my fellow-citizens, as intimated in 
your note, by addressing them at such hour and place this evening as 
you may appoint. Respectfully yours, 

Geo. Davis. 

To Dr. James H. Dickson, and others. 

The newspaper reports of the public meeting and of Mr. 
Davis’ powerful speech which followed do not convey to our 
minds the overwhelming sensations of those who listened to this 
masterpiece of oratory. Mr. Davis was obliged to close before 
he had finished his address. The people were profoundly moved, 
and the hearts of all were deeply stirred. Many left the hall 
while he was speaking, for they could not restrain their emotion. 

The Daily Journal of March 4, 1861, said: “In accordance 
with the general desire, George Davis, Esq., addressed his fel- 
low-citizens on last Saturday, March 2, at the Thalian Hall in 
reference to the proceedings of the late Peace Congress, of which 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

he was a member, giving his opinion as to the probable effect of 
such proceedings in settling the distracting questions of the day. 
Although the notice was very brief, having only appeared at 
midday in the town papers, the hall was densely crowded by an 
eager and attentive audience, among whom were many ladies.” 

The report of the speech is full, and deals with all the vital 
questions which were discussed at the Peace Congress. Mr. 
Davis said that he shrunk from no criticism upon his course, 
hut, indeed, invited and sought for it the most rigid examina- 
tion. He had endeavored to discharge the duties of the trust 
imposed in him faithfully, manfully, and conscientiously, and 
whatever might be thought of his policy, he felt that he had a 
right to demand the highest respect for the motives which actu- 
ated him in pursuing that policy. 

Referring to his own previous position, what he believed to 
be the position of the State, the course of the Legislature in 
appointing commissioners, and the objections to the action of 
the Peace Congress, Mr. Davis said he had gone to the Peace 
Congress to exhaust every honorable means to obtain a fair, an 
honorable, and a final settlement of existing difficulties. He 
had done so to the best of his ability, and had been unsuccessful, 
for he could never accept the plan adopted by the Peace Con- 
gress as consistent with the rights, the interests, or the dignity 
of North Carolina. 

Mr. Davis concluded by emphatically declaring that the 
South could never — never obtain any better or more satisfactory 
terms while she remained in the Union, and for his part he 
could never assent to the terms contained in this report of the 
Peace Congress as in accordance with the honor or the interests 
of the South. 

When Mr. Davis had concluded Hon. S. J. Person moved that 
the thanks of the meeting be tendered to him for the able, 
manly, and patriotic manner in which he had discharged the 
duties of his position as a commissioner from North Carolina. 
The motion was enthusiastically carried. 

On June 18, 1861, Mr. Davis and Mr. W. W. Avery were 
elected by the State Convention delegates for the State at large 
to the Confederate Congress, and they took their seats in the 
Senate. In alluding to his election the Journal , the organ of 
the Democratic party in this section, said : 

“Mr. Davis, in old party times, was an ardent and consistent 
member of the opposition, and was opposed to a severance from 

The War Between the States 


the North until he felt satisfied by the result of the Peace Con- 
ference that all peaceful means had been exhausted.” At the 
following session of the Legislature he and W. T. Dortch were 
elected Confederate States Senators, and later he became a 
member of the Cabinet. 

Through the courtesy of Mrs. Parsley, whose husband, Col. 
William M. Parsley, of Wilmington, gave his brilliant young 
life to the cause of the Confederacy, I include as worthy of all 
honor the following narrative, to which her well-known devotion 
as one of the leaders of the Ladies’ Memorial Society and as 
president of the Daughters of the Confederacy gives added au- 
thority and interest : 

“In 1861, when, amid great popular excitement and enthusi- 
asm, South Carolina seceded from the Union of States, the peo- 
ple of Wilmington were deeply stirred by conflicting emotions. 
Meetings were held at various local points, and speakers for and 
against secession swayed the multitudes which attended them. 
At a town meeting, an address by Dr. James H. Dickson, urging 
moderation and advising against hasty action as to secession, 
was regarded with close attention and respect, for Dr. Dickson 
was a man universally trusted and beloved, and one of the fore- 
most to act in any movement for the welfare of Wilmington. 

“His speech was followed by one from Mr. O. P. Meares, 
afterwards a colonel in the Confederate Army, and later a judge. 
He was an ardent secessionist and a fiery speaker, and the 
younger element was carried away by his eloquence, but the 
older citizens, devoted to the Union, were loath to break the 
bonds, and the community seemed equally divided until Mr. 
George Davis returned from the Peace Conference in Washing- 
ton City, with his full account of the utter failure to arrive at 
an agreement, and gave as his judgment that the Union could 
only be preserved with dishonor to the South. The immense 
crowd gathered in /the opera house received his words in pro- 
found silence, as though the speaker’s judgment settled that of 
each one who heard him. 

The Response to Lincoln’s Call foe Teoops. 

“Later, when Lincoln’s call was made for 75,000 men ‘to put 
down the rebellion,’ the whole of the Cape Fear section was 
fired, and with scarcely an exception looked upon secession and 
war as the inevitable outcome. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

“The young men wore secession rosettes and badges made of 
small pine burs. The military companies already organized 
greatly increased their ranks, and drilled vigorously. Other 
companies were organized and men of Northern birth who did 
not join some military organization were regarded with sus- 
picion. Many of this class slipped away to the north of Mason 
and Dixon’s line during the next few months. 

“Men too old for service in the field formed a cavalry com- 
pany under Capt. William C. Howard, for home defense, and 
one company of quite elderly gentlemen was known popularly as 
the ‘Horse-and-Buggy Company,’ and though they did not drill, 
they held themselves in readiness to do what they could when 
called upon. They did assist in the equipment of companies sent 
to the field, and many of them aided and supported, during the 
whole of the war, families of men in the service. 

“School boys drilled constantly in the streets with wooden 
guns and tin swords, and those owning a real gun or a good 
imitation were sure of being officers, no matter about their other 
qualifications, though to do them justice they did strive like men. 

“When a rumor came that the Harriet Lane , a small Revenue 
Cutter, had been sent to reinforce Fort Caswell, which was 
under command of Sergeant Reilly, the excitement was over- 
whelming. The Harriet Lane did not come, hut when Fort 
Sumter was bombarded on the 12th and 18th of April, several 
companies of volunteers were ordered to the fort. Sergeant 
Reilly, the lonely custodian of the fort, calling all present to 
witness that he was compelled by superior force, surrendered it 
in due form and with military honors. He afterwards served 
with signal courage and devotion in the Confederate service 
with the rank of major of artillery.” 

Wilmington Companies. 

As soon as the Eighth Regiment of Volunteers was organized, 
it was ordered to encamp at Confederate Point, near New Inlet, 
the name having been changed from Federal Point. A few 
months later they were ordered to Coosawhatchie, South Caro- 
lina, and moved to several other points to meet expected attacks, 
and later they were ordered to Virginia. After the ten regi- 
ments of State Troops were organized, the Eighth Regiment of 
Volunteers became the Eighteenth North Carolina State Troops. 

Company G of this regiment was organized in Wilmington in 

The War Between the States 


1853 as the Wilmington Light Infantry. They went into the 
war nearly two hundred strong, under Capt. William L. DeRos- 
set, who was soon promoted. His successor was Capt. Henry 
Savage. Their records show that fifty-seven commissioned offi- 
cers of the Confederate States were former members of this 
company. The regiment reached the seat of war in Virginia 
just in time for the Battle of Mechanicsville, late in June, 1862. 

From first to last there were sent from the immediate vicinity 
of Wilmington twenty companies of infantry, two of cavalry, 
and six battalions of artillery, numbering in all nearly 4,000 
men, divided as follows : 

No. of men. 

Co. C, 1st Infantry, Captain J. S. Hines 196 

Co. E, 1st Infantry, Captain James A. Wright 147 

Co. D, 3d Infantry, Captain Edward Savage 164 

Co. F, 3d Infantry, Captain William M. Parsley 159 

Co. K, 3d Infantry, Captain David Williams 174 

Co. C, 7th Infantry, Captain Robert B. McRae 159 

Co. A, 18th Infantry, Captain Christian Cornehlson 211 

Co. E, 18th Infantry, Captain John R. Hawes 169 

Co. G, 18th Infantry, Captain Henry R. Savage 194 

Co. I, 18th Infantry, Captain O. P. Meares 186 

Co. D, 36th Infantry, Captain Edward B. Dudley 131 

Co. G, 61st Infantry, Captain J. F. Moore 106 

Co. A, 51st Infantry, Captain John L. Cantwell 132 

Co. C, 51st Infantry, Captain James Robinson 87 

Co. E, 51st Infantry, Captain Willis H. Pope 89 

Co. G, 51st Infantry, Captain James W. Lippitt 93 

Co. H, 51st Infantry, Captain S. W. Maultsby 75 

Co. K, 66th Infantry, Captain William C. Freeman 140 

Co. A, 41st Regt. Cavalry, Captain A. T. Newkirk 94 

Co. C, 59th Regt. Cavalry, Captain R. M. Mclntire 89 

Co. A, 1st Batt. Artillery, Captain Robert G. Rankin 147 

Co. B, 1st Batt. Artillery, Captain Charles D. Ellis . 208 

Co. C, 1st Batt. Artillery, Captain Alexander MacRae 177 

Co. D, 1st Batt. Artillery, Captain James L. McCormack . . 127 

Co. C, 5th Batt. Artillery, Captain James D. Cumming. . . . 142 

Co. D, 5th Batt. Artillery, Captain Z. T. Adams 205 

Co. D, 72d Junior Reserves, Captain J. D. Kerr 91 

Co. H, 73d Junior Reserves, First Lieutenant D. J. Byrd 91 

Enlisted for the Navy 250 

The officers and many of the men of the Third Regiment of 
Infantry were from Hew Hanover County, and that regiment 
(like the 18th) has always seemed to belong peculiarly to Wil- 
mington. Its history, compiled by two of its surviving officers, 
Captains Metts and Cowan, and embodied in Clark’s Regimental 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Histories, shows that its whole career was Special service/ 7 and 
the instances of signal bravery, daring, and endurance related 
were so constant that they were looked upon as all in the day’s 
work, and no special notice was taken of them. 

This regiment, which went to Virginia in 1861 with 1,500 
men, took part in every battle, in the thickest of the fray, from 
Mechanicsville to Appomattox. Very much reduced by forced 
marches and hard lighting, with no chance for recruiting, only 
300 men went into the Battle of Gettysburg, and when the 
regiment was mustered after the battle, 77 muskets were all 
that responded in the ranks and “they lost no prisoners, and 
had no stragglers.” 

The compilers of the history of the Third Regiment say mod- 
estly that they “were not in a position, nor of sufficiently high 
grade, to write anything beyond the range of their own vision, 
hut that the history of one regiment of North Carolina troops is 
the history of another, save in the details which marked their 

An incident told in Captain Denson’s Memorial Address on 
General Whiting, delivered in Raleigh on Memorial Day, 1895, 
is interesting. It was written to Captain Denson by Sergeant 
Glennan : 

“During the bombardment of Fort Fisher, there was at head- 
quarters a detail of couriers, consisting of youths fifteen to 
eighteen years of age — the bravest boys I have ever seen; their 
courage was magnificent. They were on the go all the time, 
carrying orders and messages to every part of the fort. Among 
them was a boy named Murphy, a delicate stripling. He was 
from Duplin County, the son of Mr. Patrick Murphy. He had 
been called upon a number of times to carry orders, and had 
just returned from one of his trips to Battery Buchanan. The 
bombardment had been terrific, and he seemed exhausted and 
agitated. After reporting, he said to me with tears in his eyes, 
T have no fear physically, but my morale is lacking.’ And 
then he was called to carry another order. He slightly wavered 
and General Whiting saw his emotion. Dome on, my boy,’ he 
said, ‘don’t fear, I will go with you,’ and he went off with the 
courier and accompanied him to and from the point where he 
had to deliver the order. It was to one of the most dangerous 
positions and over almost unprotected ground. 

“The boy and the general returned safely. There was no 
agitation after that, and that evening he shouldered his gun 

The War Between the States 


when every man was ordered on duty to protect the fort from a 
charge of General Terry’s men. The boy met death soon after 
and rests in an unmarked grave, but his memory will ever he 


The hand of faithful women who had worked under Mrs. A. J. 
DeRosset as the Soldiers’ Aid Society organized in July, 1866, 
a permanent Memorial Association, with the purpose of rescuing 
from oblivion the names and graves of the gallant Confederates 
who lie buried near Wilmington. Mrs. Julia A. Oakley was 
made president. The first memorial observance was on July 21, 
1866. Many citizens and a number of old Confederate soldiers 
were present, and the ladies went from grave to grave in Oak- 
dale, bringing their floral tributes to the dead. A beautiful and 
touching address was delivered by Maj. Joseph A. Engelhard, 
and prayer was offered by Rev. George Patterson, who had been 
chaplain of the Third Regiment. 

The Memorial Association afterwards obtained a charter from 
the Legislature through Col. William L. Saunders in order that 
they might hold the deed for a “Confederate lot,” which was 
given them by the directors of the Oakdale Cemetery Company. 

Five hundred and fifty bodies of Confederate soldiers, buried 
at various points where they fell in the vicinity of Wilmington, 
were brought and reinterred in this lot. Only a few of the 
names were known. 

In 1870, Memorial Day was observed for the first time on the 
10th of May, the anniversary of Stonewall Jackson’s death, 
which was afterwards made a legal holiday. 

In 1872, the beautiful memorial statue to the Confederate 
heroes was unveiled. Self-denial, work, prayers, tears and 
heart’s blood went into the building of that monument. 

In 1899, a neat stone was placed, marking the grave of Mrs. 
Greenhow, who lost her life in the service of the Confederate 
States. This same year mention was made for the first time of 
the fact that the bronze statue of a soldier on the monument was 
cast from cannon captured during the war. 

In 1875, the Memorial Association, having been greatly weak- 
ened by death and the age of its members, decided to merge 
into the Daughters of the Confederacy, an organization then 
newly formed, in which they could still carry on their sacred 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

work “buoyed up and assisted by the fresh enthusiasm of the 
younger association.’ 7 They were made the Memorial Com- 
mittee of the Daughters of the Confederacy, and some of them 
still assist in placing the fresh laurel wreaths on Memorial Day. 

Besides the five hundred and fifty graves in the Confederate 
lot, there are scattered about Oakdale three hundred and eighty 
graves, and in Bellevue, the Roman Catholic Cemetery, and pri- 
vate burial grounds about one hundred more. These are all 
marked with stone markers and, as far as possible, are adorned 
with a laurel wreath upon each recurring 10th of May. 


By John L. Cantwell. 

The fact that the State of North Carolina was slow to follow 
the secession movement of her more southern sister States was 
the cause of much chafing among her people in the eastern coun- 
ties, and especially along the seacoast, where it was urged that 
the Federal Government was likely, at any moment, to garrison 
the forts commanding Cape Fear River and Beaufort Harbor. 

The people of Wilmington were particularly exercised over 
the possibility of such a step being taken, and it is likely that 
the knowledge of this strong feeling, and the impression that it 
would be regarded as an act of coercion, alone deterred the 
Washington Government from sending down strong garrisons 
and ample munitions of war. 

Fort Caswell, commanding the main entrance to Cape Fear 
River, was a bastioned, masonry fort of great strength and in 
thorough order, but without mounted guns. Once occupied and 
armed, it would have been impossible for the Confederates, 
without command of the sea, to have retaken it, and the port 
which afterwards proved of such inestimable value to them 
would have been effectually sealed. The Federal fleets having 
free entrance there, would have held the shores on either side 
of the river for some distance up, and commanded, from a safe 
interior base, the entrance through New Inlet, for the defense 
of which Fort Fisher was afterwards built, and that historic and 
epoch-making earthwork would probably never have been con- 

iFrom Clark’s Regimental Histories. 

The War Between the States 


In the State at large the Union sentiment was at this time 
slightly in the ascendant. In the Lower Cape Fear the seces- 
sionists were probably in the majority. These regarded delays 
as dangerous, and anticipated with forebodings the occupation 
of the forts by the Union forces. 

Early in January, 1861, alarmed by the condition of affairs 
in Charleston Harbor, they determined to risk no longer delays. 
A meeting of the citizens of Wilmington was held in the court- 
house, at which Robert G. Rankin, Esq., who afterwards gave 
his life for the cause on the battlefield of Bentonville, presided. 
A Committee of Safety was formed, and a call made for volun- 
teers to be enrolled for instant service under the name of “Cape 
Fear Minute Men.” The organization was speedily effected, 
John J. Hedrick being chosen commander. 

On the 10th of January Major Hedrick and his men embarked 
on a small schooner with provisions for one week, the Committee 
of Safety guaranteeing continued support and supplies, each 
man carrying such private weapons as he possessed. Arriving 
at Smithville at 3 p. m., they took possession of the United 
States barracks known as Fort Johnston, and such stores as were 
there in charge of United States Ord. Sergt. James Reilly, later 
captain of Reilly’s battery. The same afternoon Major Hed- 
rick took twenty men of his command, reinforced by Capt. 
S. D. Thurston, commander of the Smithville Guards, and 
a number of his men and citizens of Smithville, but all acting 
as individuals only, and proceeded to Fort Caswell, three miles 
across the bay, where they demanded, and obtained, surrender 
of the fort from the United States sergeant in charge. 

Major Hedrick assumed command and prepared to make his 
position as secure as possible. About twenty-five strong, armed 
only with shotguns, but sure of ample reinforcements should 
occasion arise, these brave men determined to hold Fort Caswell 
at all hazards. In bitter cold weather, they stood guard on the 
ramparts and patrolled the beaches, reckoning not that, unsus- 
tained even by State authority, their action was treasonable 
rebellion, jeopardizing their lives and property. There were 
only two 24-pounder guns mounted, one on the sea face and one 
on the inner face, both carriages being too decayed to withstand 
their own recoil; but, such as they were, with them they deter- 
mined to defy the United States Army and Navy. The smoke 
of an approaching steamer being once descried below the horizon, 
the alarm was signaled, and, believing it to be a man-of-war, the 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

brave men of Smithville flew to arms, and soon the bay was alive 
with boats hurrying them to the aid of their comrades within 
the fort. Women, as in the old days, armed sons and fathers 
and urged them to the front. But the steamer proved to be a 
friendly one. 

IJpon receipt of unofficial information of this movement, Gov. 
John W. Ellis, captain general and commander-in-chief of the 
North Carolina Militia, on the 11th of January, 1861, ad- 
dressed a letter to Col. J ohn L. Cantwell, commanding the Thir- 
tieth Regiment North Carolina Militia, at Wilmington, in 
which, after stating his belief that the men were “actuated by 
patriotic motives/’ he continued : 

“Yet, in view of the relations existing between the General 
Government and the State of North Carolina, there is no au- 
thority of law, under existing circumstances, for the occupation 
of the United States forts situated in this State. I can not, 
therefore, sustain the action of Captain Thurston, however 
patriotic his motives may have been, and am compelled by an 
imperative sense of duty to order that Fort Caswell be restored 
to the possession of the authorities of the United States. 

“You will proceed to Smithville on receipt of this communi- 
cation and communicate orders to Captain Thurston to with- 
draw his troops from Fort Caswell. You will also investigate 
and report the facts to this department.” 

Upon receipt of this order on the 12th, Col. J. L. Cantwell 
notified the Governor that he would proceed at once to Fort 
Caswell, accompanied by Robert E. Calder, acting adjutant, 
and William Calder, acting quartermaster, two staff officers tem- 
porarily appointed for that duty. Transportation facilities 
between Wilmington and Smithville were very limited. Colonel 
Cantwell and his aides embarked on a slow-sailing sloop which 
became becalmed within four miles of Smithville. They were 
put into shallow water, out of which they waded and walked to 
Smithville, where they secured, with difficulty, because the popu- 
lace was almost unanimously opposed to their supposed mission, 
a pilot boat in which they sailed to Fort Caswell, arriving there 
after dark. 

After some parleying, and not without reluctance, they were 
admitted and conducted to Major Hedrick, to whom the follow- 
ing order was delivered : 

The War Between the States 


To Major John J. Hedrick, Commanding Fort Caswell : 

Sir: — i n obedience to the order of His Excellency, John W. Ellis, 
governor, etc., a copy of which I herewith transmit, it becomes my 
duty to direct that you withdraw the troops under your command from 
Fort Caswell and restore the same to the custody of the officer of the 
United States whom you found in charge. 

Respectfully, John L. Cantwell, 

Colonel Thirtieth North Carolina Militia. 

Robert E. Calder, Acting Adjutant. 

The garrison asked until the next morning to consider what 
reply should he made, and, on the morning of the 13th, this was 
returned : 

Colonel John L. Cantwell: 

Sir: — Your communication, with the copy of the order of Governor 
Ellis demanding the surrender of this post, has been received. In 
reply, I have to inform you that we, as North Carolinians, will obey his 
command. This post will be evacuated tomorrow at 9 o’clock a. m. 

John J. Hedrick, 

Major Commanding . 

George Wortham, Acting Adjutant. 

The fort was evacuated on the next day. Colonel Cantwell 
and his aides returned to Wilmington and reported the facts to 
Governor Ellis. The United States sergeant again assumed 
control of the government property. 

Thus matters remained in this section until April of the same 
year, the State in the meantime drifting steadily towards seces- 
sion and war, and the people sternly arming and preparing. The 
local military companies in Wilmington were fully recruited, 
and the former minute men permanently organized as the Cape 
Fear Light Artillery, under which name they served throughout 
the war. 

On the 12th of April came the firing upon Fort Sumter, fol- 
lowed on the 15th by a call from the Secretary of War upon the 
Governor of Forth Carolina for “two regiments of military for 
immediate service.” Immediately the Governor telegraphed 
orders to Col. J. L. Cantwell, at Wilmington, “to take Forts 
Caswell and Johnston without delay, and hold them until fur- 
ther orders against all comers.” Colonel Cantwell, as com- 
mander of the Thirtieth Regiment Forth Carolina Militia, 
promptly issued orders to “the officers in command of the Wil- 
mington Light Infantry, the German Volunteers, and the Wil- 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

mington Rifle Guards, to assemble fully armed and equipped 
this afternoon” [15th], which orders were promptly obeyed. 

On the morning of the 16th the Governor telegraphed Colonel 
Cantwell to proceed at once to the forts, “and take possession 
of the same in the name of the State of North Carolina. This 
measure being one of precaution merely, you will observe strictly 
a peaceful policy, and act only on the defensive.” The force 
under Colonel Cantwell’s orders moved promptly. It consisted 
of the Wilmington Light Infantry, Capt. W. L. DeRosset; the 
German Volunteers, Capt. C. Cornehlson; the Wilmington Rifle 
Guards, Capt. O. P. Meares; and the Cape Fear Light Artillery, 
Lieut. James M. Stevenson, commanding. At 4 p. m., United 
States Ord. Sergt. James Reilly surrendered the post at Fort 
Johnston, where Lieutenant Stevenson, with his company, was 
left in command. The remainder of the battalion, under Col. 
J. L. Cantwell, proceeded to Fort Caswell and took possession 
at 6.20 p. m., Sergeant Walker, of the United States Army, 
being placed in close confinement in his* quarters “in conse- 
quence of the discovery of repeated attempts to communicate 
with his government.” 

Officers and men worked with vigor to mount guns and pre- 
pare for defense, and the work never ceased until the fall of Fort 
Fisher in 1865, and the necessary abandonment of the defense 
of the lower harbor. The Wilmington Light Infantry were soon 
after sent to Federal Point, where, in Battery Bolles, they began 
the first defensive works, which afterwards grew into Fort 
Fisher and its outlying batteries. 

Thus was war inaugurated in North Carolina more than a 
month prior to the act of secession ; and it is a noteworthy fact 
that the news of the act dissolving connection with the Union, 
and the call upon her sons to arm themselves was first made 
known to the pioneer troops of the Cape Fear on the parade 
ground at Fort Caswell. 

The War Between the States 



The day following the fall of Sumter, Maj. W. H. C. Whiting 
hastened to Wilmington and by courtesy took command of the 
defenses of the Cape Fear. He at once formed a staff, organized 
the Quartermaster and Commissary Departments, and assigned 
Capt. E. L. Childs, of the old army, to duty as chief of Artil- 
lery and Ordnance, and he appointed S. A. Ashe a lieutenant, 
and assigned him to duty with Captain Childs. Capt. John C. 
Winder, who bore a commission from Governor Ellis as chief 
engineer, reported to Major Whiting. So all of the departments 
were speedily organized, and the work of preparing for defense 
was begun. It was a time of unremitting work. 

To command Yew Inlet, Capt. C. P. Bolles threw up the first 
battery on Confederate Point. It was called Battery Bolles. 
The Wilmington Light Infantry, Capt W. L. DeRosset, which 
had been drilled at the cannon at Caswell, was its first garrison. 
The most interesting of these early batteries was a casemate 
battery constructed by Captain Winder out of railroad iron and 
palmetto logs cut on Smith’s Island. It was located near the 
river bank and a short distance higher up than Battery Bolles. 
Captain Winder’s plan of defense for Confederate Point em- 
braced a strong fortification to command the inlet ; and in order 
to guard against a land attack there was a redoubt at the head 
of the sound, another halfway to the point, and a covered way 
was planned from the sound to the point, affording protection 
from the guns of the fleet to the riflemen while they should be 
engaged with any force that might attempt to land. 

Major Whiting was soon promoted to the rank of general and 
ordered to Virginia, and Col. S. L. Fremont had general charge 
of the Cape Fear. After some months, Colonel Brown of the 
Regular Army succeeded Colonel Cantwell. Captain DeRosset 
was promoted and ordered to Virginia, and Maj. J. J. Hedrick 
had command at Confederate Point. This officer early became 
distinguished for energy and efficiency, and was especially re- 
markable for his skill in erecting batteries. His work at Con- 
federate Point and also at Fort Johnston excited admiration. 
In October, 1861, when an attack was expected, Gen. Joseph R. 
Anderson, of Richmond, an old West Pointer, was assigned to 
the command of the district, and brought with him a full staff 
of Virginians. Major Lamb, of Norfolk, was assigned to the 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

command of Confederate Point and fortunately proved himself 
to be a most capable, efficient, and acceptable officer. 

Later in the war the importance of Wilmington to the Con- 
federacy became manifest, and General Whiting, doubtless the 
best engineer officer in the army, and a gentleman of most re- 
markable intellect and attainments, was assigned to the com- 
mand of the district. General Hebert bad command of the 
lower defenses. His headquarters were at Fort Johnston. It 
was here that he narrowly escaped being captured. One dark 
night young Lieutenant Cushing, of the Federal Havy, who 
achieved great fame by blowing up the ram Albemarle , made 
a raid on Hebert’s private quarters, and came near carrying off 
the general to the blockading squadron. On another occasion, 
Cushing passed up the river to the vicinity of Wilmington and 
spent a day within sight of the town, without, however, gaining 
any information. 

In 1863, Col. Thomas M. Jqnes, a brother of Capt. Pembroke 
Jones of the navy and associated with the Cape Fear by his 
marriage with Miss London, was given command of Fort Cas- 
well, hut, his health failing, in 1864 he was succeeded by Col. 
C. H. Simonton. 

One of the amusing incidents connected with the early days 
of the war is recorded by Hr. W. G. Curtis in his Reminiscences 
of Smithville-Southport : 

“Much confusion prevailed at first, and the old citizens of 
the town proposed the establishment of a Lome guard’ for the 
protection of their home interests. Consequently, a public meet- 
ing was called at the courthouse, and after much discussion 
an organization was formed. Mr. John Bell was elected cap- 
tain, his chief qualification being that he was good-natured 
and not likely to enforce any military discipline whatever. 
Much wisdom was apparent in the conversation of these ancient 
gentlemen, who proposed a great number of things hitherto un- 
heard of in any military organization, the principal one being 
that they were liable to become fatigued by the exertion of 
marching. Inquiring of the citizens if they were well and lis- 
tening to their replies that ‘they were not to say well, that they 
had a mighty hurting in their heads and a misery in their 
hacks,’ which being duly reported to Captain Bell, he would 
reply by saying that he was ‘sorry for their infirmities but that 
mustang liniment was a good thing, and that a small quantity of 
plantation hitters taken internally would finish the cure.’ Upon 

The War Between the States 


the occasion of the first meeting Captain Bell issued orders 
that they should all come together for drill the next morning, 
and one member of the force proposed to the captain that the 
soldiers of the 'home guard 7 should he required to bring camp 
stools with them* so that when they were tired they could sit 
down and rest. Captain Bell put them through the various 
drills marching around the town, and it was observed that when 
one of the company got opposite to his own home he left the 
ranks and was no more seen. The Tome guard’ being thus 
weakened so that they could not face any kind of an enemy, 
it was moved and seconded by one of the members that the or- 
ganization he now discontinued, to which motion Captain Bell 
remarked that he thought so, too, and the motion being unani- 
mously carried, thus ended the famous Tome guard.’ ” 


Wilmington, the principal seaport of North Carolina, also 
became the most important in the Southern Confederacy. Prior 
to the beginning of hostilities it had sustained a large traffic in 
naval stores and lumber* and now it was to be for a time the 
chief cotton port of America. A startling change in the aspect 
of the port soon became apparent. The sailing vessels, even 
to the tiny corn-crackers from Hyde County, had vanished; 
likewise the two New York steamers. The long line of wharves 
was occupied by a fleet of nondescript craft the like of which 
had never been seen in North Carolina waters. A cotton com- 
press on the western side of the river, near Market Street ferry, 
was running night and day to supply these steamers with car- 
goes for Nassau and Bermuda, while other newcomers were 
busily discharging their anomalous cargoes of life-preserving 
and death-dealing supplies for the new Confederacy. 

The good old town was sadly marred by the plagues of war 
and pestilence and famine. Four hundred and forty-six of the 
population, reduced by flight to about three thousand, had been 
carried off by the epidemic of yellow fever brought from Nas- 
sau by the steamer Kate ; and hundreds more of the younger 
generation, who gave up their lives in the Confederate cause, 
had been brought to their final resting place in Oakdale Ceme- 
tery. Suspension of the civil law, neglect of sanitary -precau- 
tions, the removal of nearly all the famine stricken women and 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

children to safer places in the interior, and the coming of 
speculators and adventurers to the auction sales of the blockade- 
runners’ merchandise, as well as the advent of lawless and de- 
praved characters attracted by the camps and shipping, had 
quite changed the aspect of the whole community. The military 
post, including all the river and harbor defenses, was under 
the command of Maj. Gen. W. H. C. Whiting. 

The Yellow Fever. 

The distress of Wilmington during the yellow fever epidemic 
was described as follows by the late Dr. Thomas F. Wood in 
his biographical sketch of one of the heroes of that fearful 
scourge, Dr. James H. Dickson, who died at his post of duty: 

“The month of September, 1862, was one of great calamity 
to Wilmington. The alarming forebodings of the visitation of 
yellow fever in a pestilential form had ripened into a certainty. 
Depleted of her young and active men, there was only a military 
garrison in occupation, and when the presence of fever was 
announced the soldiers were removed to a safer locality. The 
country people, taking panic at the news of the presence of the 
fever, no longer sent in their supplies. The town was deserted, 
its silence broken only by the occasional pedestrian bound on 
errands of mercy to the sick, or the rumbling of the rude funeral 
cart. The blockade was being maintained with increased vigor. 
The only newspaper then published was the Wilmington Jour- 
nal , a daily under the editorship of James Fulton, and its issues 
were maintained under the greatest difficulties, owing to the 
scarcity of paper and to sickness among the printers. All eyes 
were turned anxiously toward the physicians and those in au- 
thority for help. To all the resident physicians the disease was 
a new one ; not one in the number had ever seen a case of yellow 
fever, and among them were men of large experience. The 
municipal authorities recognized their helplessness ; the town 
was neglected, for it had been overcrowded with soldiers and 
visitors since the early days of the spring of 1861. The black 
pall of smoke from the burning tar barrels added solemnity to 
the deadly silence of the streets ; designed to purify the air and 
mitigate the pestilence, it seemed more like fuliginous clouds of 
ominous portent, a somber emblem of mourning. Panic, dis- 
tress, mute despair, want, had fallen upon a population then 
strained to its utmost, with the bleeding columns of its regi- 

The War Between the States 


ments dyeing the hills of Maryland with their blood, until the 
whole air was filled with the wail of the widow and the orphan, 
and the dead could no longer he honored with the last tribute of 

“The Wilmington Journal of September 29, 1862, gave all 
its available editorial space to chronicle, for the first time, the 
character of the epidemic, and in a few brief words to notice 
the death of some of the more prominent citizens. One para- 
graph in the simple editorial notice ran as follows: ‘Dr. James 
H. Dickson, a physician of the highest character and standing, 
died here on Sunday morning of yellow fever. Dr. Dickson’s 
death is a great loss to the profession and to the community.’ 
Close by, in another column, from the pen of the acting adju- 
tant, Lieutenant VanBokkelen, of the Third 1ST. C. Infantry, 
numbering so many gallant souls of the young men of Wilming- 
ton, was the list of the killed and wounded on the bloody field 
of Sharpsburg. 

“Distressed and bereaved by this new weight of sorrow, Wil- 
mington sat in the mournful habiliments of widowhood, striv- 
ing, amidst the immensity of the struggle, to make her coura- 
geous voice heard above all the din of war to nerve the brave 
hearts who stood as a girdle of steel about beleaguered Richmond. 

“James Fulton, the well-known proprietor of the Journal , 
the wary politician and cautious editor, striving to keep the 
worst from the world, lest the enemy might use it to our dis- 
advantage, often ruthlessly* suppressed from his limited space 
such matters as in these days of historical research might he of 
the greatest service. There were two predominant topics which 
eclipsed all the impending sorrow and distress: first, foreign 
intervention, for the purpose of bringing about an honorable 
peace; second, warnings to the State government of the inade- 
quacy of the defense of Wilmington Harbor against the enemy. 
The former topic was discussed with unvarying pleasure. The 
horizon of the future was aglow with the rosy dreams of man- 
dates from the British and French Governments which would 
bring independence to the Confederacy and peace and quietness 
to the numerous homes, from the sea to the mountains, where 
sorrow and death had hung like a pall. It is not strange, there- 
fore, that the few publications that had survived the scarcity 
of printing material should have contained so little biographical 
matter. Comrades dropped on the right and on the left, hut 
the ranks were closed up, the hurried tear wiped away, and the 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

line pushed steadily forward. The distinguished physician, or 
general, or jurist, as well as the humble private, got his passing 
notice in the meagre letters which a chance correspondent sent 
to one of the few newspapers, and in a short time he was for- 
gotten in the fresh calamity of the day.” 

The following may be added to Dr. Wood’s interesting ac- 
count : 

In August, 1862, the military occupation, the laxity of mu- 
nicipal control, the constant movement of troops, the utter neg- 
lect of sanitary precautions, the non-enforcement of quarantine 
regulations, practically invited the introduction of yellow fever 
from Nassau by the daily arrival of blockade runners with 
frequent cases of infection. 

The first victim was a German wood-and-coal dealer named 
Swartzman, whose place of business was on the wharf quite 
near the landing place of the blockade runner Kate, which 
brought the infection. My father was informed promptly of 
this by our physician, Dr. James H. Dickson, who advised him 
to remove his family at once to the country. As my father had 
seen much of this terrible scourge in the West Indies and in 
South America, he recognized the gravity of the situation, and 
sent us all to Duplin County, where he had relatives. Before 
we left, a ludicrous incident occurred which has stuck in my 
memory. One of my brothers having kept to his room from 
indisposition, was at once the object of much solicitude. My 
father, being a bit of a medico, directed the hoy to put out his 
tongue, which he did with evident reluctance, to the horror of 
my father, who declared he had symptoms of yellow fever. A 
shame-faced confession that the patient had been secretly chew- 
ing tobacco, which had caused his sickness, relieved the situation 
and calmed our fears. The year 1862 is still remembered by 
our older people as a period of terror and dismay. The date 
of frost was delayed nearly a whole month that fall and nothing 
hut frost would stay the fearful pestilence. 

Among the devoted hand of Christians who remained at their 
post of duty and yielded up their lives while rendering succor 
to those who could not leave, were Rev. R. B. Drane, rector of 
St. James’s parish, aged 62 years; James S. Green, treasurer of 
the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad, aged 63 years ; Dr. J ames 
H. Dickson, an accomplished physician and man of letters, aged 
59 years; John W. K. Dix, a prominent merchant, aged 30 
years; Isaac Northrop, a large mill owner, aged 67 years; 

The War Between the States 


James T. Miller, a prominent citizen and the collector of the 
port, aged 47 years ; Rev. John L. Pritchard, a Baptist minister, 
who fell at his post, never faltering, aged 51 years. Thomas 
Clarkson Worth, an eminent merchant, after laboring among 
the sick and destitute, yielded his life to the plague November 
1, 1862; Cyrus Stowe Van Amringe, one of nature 7 s noblemen, 
who refused to leave and remained to help the sick, died at his 
post, aged 26 years. Rev. Rather Murphy, a Roman Catholic 
priest, a hero among heroes, worked night and day until nearly 
the last victim had died, and then fell on sleep. Rev. A. Paul 
Repiton was the only minister remaining in the city who sur- 
vived. He worked unceasingly for the sick and buried the 
dead. His name is blessed in the annals of Wilmington. Hun- 
dreds of others bravely met the issue and remained to nurse the 
sick during the horror, and few survived. Of about 3,000 in- 
habitants who remained in the city, about 446 died within three 
months. _ 

In a sketch of Wilmington in 1867, the late Joshua T. James 
wrote of the epidemic as follows : 

“In August, 1821, the yellow fever appeared here, introduced 
by means of the brig John London from Havana. It raged 
with great violence for about six weeks and a large proportion 
of the citizens of the little town, then numbering only about 
2,500 inhabitants, was swept away by it. In the autumn of 
1862 its ravages were terrible. It began August 6 and ended 
November 17, 446 persons having died of the plague within 
that time. In this instance, as in the former, it was imported 
from the Indies, and on this occasion by the steamship Kate , a 
blockade runner, trading between this port and Nassau. For 
over ten weeks it raged with terrible violence, and at a period, 
too, when it was most difficult to combat its effects. Medicines 
and provisions were both scarce and high in price, and the little 
luxuries needed for the convalescent were most difficult to obtain. 
Those of the frightened inhabitants that were able to do so fled 
the town ; all business was abandoned, and the closed stores and 
silent streets gave the place the appearance of a deserted city. 
It was then, in that time of distress and suffering, that a few 
of the noble spirits of Wilmington arose equal to the emergency. 
Regardless of self, many of our oldest and most valued citizens 
remained behind to minister to the wants of those who were 
unable to leave. Distributing food to the poor, medicine and 
attendance to the sick, consolation to the dying, and holy burial 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

to the dead, they remained behind when many others had fled, 
and nobly fulfilled the trust they had assigned themselves. 
Many of them escaped, but some fell, and those from the ranks 
of the most honored and esteemed citizens of the town. Rest 
they well, and rest they calmly. They need no monument above 
their tombs ; that is to be found in the hearts of those who knew 

War Prices in Wilmington. 

As the war progressed the prices of food and clothing ad- 
vanced in proportion to the depreciation of Confederate money ; 
the plainest necessities were almost unobtainable — $50 for a 
ham, $500 for a barrel of flour, $500 for a pair of boots, $600 
for a suit of clothes, $1,500 for an overcoat, and $100 a pound 
for coffee or tea, were readily paid as the fortunes of the Con- 
federacy waned. Coffee was perhaps the greatest luxury and 
was seldom used; substitutes of beans, potatoes, and rye with 
“long sweetening” — sorghum — having been generally adopted. 
Within a mile or two of our temporary home in the country there 
lived two unattractive spinsters of mature age, one of whom, in 
the other’s absence, was asked by an old reprobate of some means 
in the neighborhood to marry him, a preposterous proposal, 
which she indignantly rejected. Upon the return of the absent 
sister, however, she was made to feel that she had thrown away 
the golden opportunity of a lifetime ; for, said the sister, “Didn’t 
you know he has a bag of coffee in his house ?” 

Another true incident will also serve to illustrate the comic 
side of the great crisis. Our evening meal consisted of milk, 
rye coffee, yopon tea, honey, and one wheaten biscuit each, with 
well-prepared corn muffins and hominy ad libitum. The bis- 
cuit, however, were valued beyond price, and the right of each 
individual to them was closely guarded by the younger members 
of the family. One evening there appeared just before supper 
an itinerant preacher, who was made welcome to the best we 
had. Addressing himself with vigor to the tempting plate of 
biscuit, and ignoring the despised muffins, which were politely 
pressed upon him by the dismayed youngsters at his side, he 
actually devoured the entire dozen with apparent ease and great 
relish. Upon being informed at the hour of retiring that it 
would be inconvenient to serve his breakfast at daylight, when 
he desired to depart, he said, to our amazement, that, rather 

The War Between the States 


than disturb us in the early morning, he would take his break- 
fast then and there before going to bed. But there were no 
more biscuit to serve. 

Southern Railroads in War Times. 

The following incidents illustrating the physical condition of 
the railroads in the South resulting from the incessant war 
strain, which could not be remedied nor repaired because of in- 
adequate facilities and lack of material, may he worth recording. 

A few weeks after the termination of the four years’ war, I 
was returning to our temporary home in Robeson County by 
way of the Wilmington, Charlotte, and Rutherford Railroad, 
now a part of the Carolina Central and Seaboard Air Line. 
The track had been partly destroyed and the roadbed and roll- 
ing stock were in a dangerous state of disruption and decay. 
Our speed at five miles an hour was really perilous ; during the 
frequent stops, we were repeatedly passed by an old darkey 
laden with farming implements, who preferred the footpath to 
the rickety railroad train. To each and every invitation from 
the passengers to get on the train as we overtook him, he politely 
responded, “Much obleeged, Boss, but I hain’t got time.” 

Captain Hobart, of the British Navy, who subsequently be- 
came admiral-in-chief of the Turkish Navy, commanded the 
blockade runner Don, and made eight or ten successful runs to 
Wilmington. He describes in the following incident a railroad 
trip to Charleston during the war. 

“I determined this time to have a look at Charleston, which 
was then undergoing a lengthened and destructive siege. So, 
after giving over my craft into the hands of the owners’ repre- 
sentatives in Wilmington, who would unload and put her cargo 
of cotton on hoard, I took my place in the train, and after pass- 
ing thirty-six of the most miserable hours in my life traveling 
the distance of one hundred and forty miles, I arrived at 
Charleston, South Carolina, or rather near to that city, for the 
train, disgusted I suppose with itself, ran quietly off the line 
into a meadow about two miles from the station. The passen- 
gers seemed perfectly contented, and shouldering their baggage 
walked off into the town. I mechanically followed with my 
portmanteau, and in due course arrived at the only hotel, where 
I was informed I might have half a room. 

“Acting on a hint I received from a waiter that food was 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

being devoured in the dining-room, and that if I did not look 
out for myself I should have to do without that essential article 
for the rest of the day, I hurried into the salle-a-manger , where 
two long tables were furnished with all the luxuries then to be 
obtained in Charleston, which luxuries consisted of lumps of 
meat supposed to be beef, boiled Indian corn, and I think there 
were the remains of a feathered biped or two, to partake of 
which I was evidently too late. All these washed down with 
water, or coffee without sugar, were not very tempting; but 
human nature must be supported, so at it I set, and having 
swallowed a sufficient quantity of animal food, I went off to my 
room to take a pull at a bottle of brandy which I had sagaciously 
stored in my carpet-bag. But alas, for the morals of the be- 
leaguered city. I found, on arriving there, a darkey extended 
at full length in happy oblivion on the floor, with the few clothes 
I had with me forming his pillow, and the brandy bottle rolling 
about alongside of him, empty. 

“I first of all hammered his head against the floor, but the 
floor had the worst of it ; then I kicked his shins (the only vul- 
nerable part), but it was of no use; so, pouring the contents of 
a water pitcher over him, in the hope that I might thus cause 
awful dreams to disturb his slumbers, I left him, voting myself 
a fool for leaving the key in my trunk. 

“Having letters of introduction to some of General Beaure- 
gard’s staff, I made my way to headquarters, where I met with 
the greatest courtesy and kindness.” 

Col. Alfred Moore Waddell wrote in his very interesting 
reminiscences of a railroad tragedy during the war on what is 
now a part of the great Atlantic Coast Line system, in which he 
narrowly escaped death, but which involved a ludicrous scene, 
as follows : 

“The yellow fever was brought to Wilmington by a blockade 
runner in August, 1862, and raged with terrible effect for two 
or three months. Happening to be going from Richmond, Va., 
to Augusta, Ga., and stopping for a day or two in Wilmington, 
just before the fever broke out, and hearing that a poor fellow 
named Swartzman, a young German, was sick and alone, I 
called at his room and sat by his bedside and tried to cheer him, 
holding his hand in the meantime. I observed that he had 
a very yellow appearance and supposed he had j aundice. After 
sitting some time, I bade him good-bye, and a few hours later 
left the city for Augusta. He died with black vomit within 

The War Between the States 


forty-eight hours, and his was the first case of the dreadful 
scourge, or at least it was the first recognized case. My escape 
was a signal mercy; and there was cause for additional grati- 
tude when, on my return home, which was delayed until the 
fever had disappeared, a dreadful railroad accident occurred 
in which two young ladies sitting immediately behind me were 
killed and every person in the car except one was hurt, while I 
crawled out with slight injury. The railroad was in a very 
dilapidated condition, as the war was going on and no means 
of repairing it was available, and the engine ‘jumped the track 7 
twice after the accident, the last time being about ten miles 
from Wilmington, whereupon, with several others, I left it and 
walked to town. I have frequently related the circumstances 
attending this fatal accident for the purpose of proving that, 
according to my experience, there seldom occurs a tragedy with- 
out some comic incident. In this case the comic incident was 
as follows : Provisions of all kinds were hard to get, and seeing 
an old ‘aunty 7 at one of the stations with a box of ten dozen eggs, 
I bought them, paying her five (Confederate) dollars per dozen 
for them, and placed them under the seat in front of me, on 
which Mr. James Dawson, of Wilmington, and another gentle- 
man were sitting. When the accident occurred all the lights 
in the car were extinguished, and, the night being very dark, 
it was impossible to distinguish persons. Just after I crawled 
out of the wreck, and while the cries and groans of the victims 
were still going on, a feeble voice cried, ‘Gentlemen, I am bleed- 
ing to death . 7 At once recognizing the voice as that of Dawson 
and expressing the hope that he was mistaken, he replied, ‘Ho, 
just feel my head and my clothes . 7 I did so, and the wet, slimy 
clothes certainly seemed to verify his assertion. About that 
time a lantern was brought by the conductor (Harry Brock) 
and the revelation it made, in spite of the solemnity of the sur- 
roundings, was ludicrous in the extreme. My box of eggs, when 
the car turned over, had fallen on Dawson’s head and shoulders, 
and the contents were streaming from his battered hat — an old 
‘stove-pipe 7 — and from his hair and face and arms in a yellow 
cascade. His change of expression upon the discovery was even 
more ridiculous than the plight he was in . 77 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 


(From the Confederate Veteran.) 

This noble character deserves prominent record for her serv- 
ices to the South. She was president of the Soldiers’ Aid 
Society, of Wilmington, from the beginning to the end of the 

Endowed with administrative ability, which called forth the 
remark, “She ought to have been a general,” gifted with unusual 
largeness of heart and breadth of sympathy, she was a leader of 
society, yet ever alive to the wants and the sufferings of the poor 
and needy. Under her direction the Soldiers’ Aid Society was 
early organized, and for four years did its work of beneficence 
with unabated energy. 

The North Carolina coast was especially inviting to the 
attacks of the enemy, and Mrs. DeRosset’s household was re- 
moved to the interior of the State. Her beautiful home in 
Wilmington was despoiled largely of its belongings; servants 
and children were taken away, hut she soon returned to Wil- 
mington, where her devoted husband was detained by the re- 
quirements of business, and here devoted herself to the work 
of helping and comforting the soldiers. 

Six of her own sons and three sons-in-law wore the gray. 
The first work was to make clothing for the men. Many a poor 
fellow was soon without a change of clothing. Large supplies 
were made and kept on hand. Haversacks were home-made. 
Canteens were covered. Cartridges for rifles, and powder-bags 
for the great columbiads were made by hundreds. Canvas bags 
to be filled with sand and used on the fortifications were re- 
quired for Eort Eisher — and much more was in requisition. 
The ladies would daily gather at the City Hall and ply their 
busy needles or machines, with never a sigh of weariness. 

When the troops were being massed in Virginia, Wilmington, 
being the principal port of entry for the Confederacy, was 
naturally an advantageous point for obtaining supplies through 
the blockade, and Mrs. UeRosset, ever watching the opportunity 
to secure them, had a large room in her dwelling fitted up as a 
store-room. Many a veteran in these intervening years has 
blessed the memory of Mrs. DeRosset and her faithful aids for 
the comfort and refreshment so lavishly bestowed upon him. 
Feasts without price were constantly spread at the depot. Nor 
were the spiritual needs of the soldiers neglected. Bibles, 

The War Between the States 


prayer-books, and hymn books were distributed. Men still live 
who treasure their war Bibles among their most valuable posses- 

Mrs. DeRosset’s ability to overcome difficulties in getting all 
she needed for the men was the constant wonder of those who 
daily assisted her in her labors. An incident of her surpassing 
executive power is worthy of record. After the first attack on 
Fort Fisher, the garrison, under the command of the gallant 
officers Whiting and Lamb, was in great peril and in need of 
reinforcements, which came in Hoke’s division of several thou- 
sand men — Clingman’s, Kirkland’s, Colquitt’s, and Hagood’s 
brigades — with some of the Horth Carolina Junior Reserves. 
The wires brought the news that in a few hours they would 
arrive, hungry and footsore. Mrs. DeRosset was asked if the 
ladies could feed them. The ready reply was flashed back : “Of 
course we can” ; and she proved equal to the task. Through her 
energies and resources, and those of her able corps of assistants, 
she redeemed her pledge. 

The harrowing scenes of hospital life followed, and here, as 
elsewhere, Mrs. DeRosset’s labors were abundant. The sick 
were ministered to by tender hands, the wounded carefully 
nursed, and the dead decently buried. The moving spirit in 
all these works of beneficence was the Soldiers’ Aid Society, 
directed by Mrs. DeRosset. 

When all was over, Mrs. DeRosset was the first to urge the 
organization of the Ladies’ Memorial Association for perpetu- 
ating the memory of the brave soldiers who died for our cause. 
Though persistently refusing to accept office, she remained a 
faithful member of the association as long as she lived. 

A sketch of Mrs. DeRosset’s work during the Confederacy 
would not be complete without some recognition of the valuable 
assistance given her by all her colleagues, and especially Jby 
Mrs. Alfred Martin, the vice president. That she was looked 
up to as their leader does not in the least degree detract from 
the value of their services, for without strong hands and willing 
hearts the head would be of little avail, and she never failed to 
give due meed of appreciation to all who helped her in her work. 
From her own countrywomen such devotion was to be expected, 
but the German women of the city entered into the work, zeal- 
ously giving their means as well as their time to the call of their 
president. Were it not open to a charge of invidiousness, a few 
names might be singled out as especially helpful and interested 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

in serving the country of their adoption, with the unwearied 
fidelity of true-hearted women of every land. 

Her labors ended, Mrs. DeRosset has for years rested peace- 
fully under the shade of the Oakdale trees, waiting her joyful 
resurrection. The daughters of the South could have no better, 
purer model, should their beloved country ever call on them, 
as it did on her, in time of need. 

Of her own sons, one noble boy of seventeen sleeps in Oakdale 
Cemetery, with “Only a Private” inscribed on a stone marking 
his resting place. 

Her oldest son. Col. William L. DeRosset, of the gallant 
Third Horth Carolina Infantry, was wounded nigh unto death 
at Sharpsburg. 

Her second son, Dr. M. John DeRosset, assistant surgeon at 
Bellevue Hospital, Hew York, with most flattering offers of 
promotion in a Hew York regiment, resigned his commission, 
came South, and was commissioned assistant surgeon, with 
orders to report to Jackson, in whose command he shared the 
perils of the famous Valley campaign of 1862. Later, he was 
one of the surgeons in charge of the hospital in the Baptist 
College, Richmond. 

Another son, Capt. A. L. DeRosset, of the Third Horth Caro- 
lina Infantry, was several times disabled by slight wounds, and 
at Averasboro was left for dead on the field. He owes his recov- 
ery to the skill and care of a Federal surgeon, into whose hands 
he fell. 

Louis H. DeRosset, being physically incapacitated for active 
duty, was detailed in the Ordnance and Quartermaster’s Depart- 
ments, and was sent to Hassau on business connected with the 

Thomas C. DeRosset, the youngest of the six, a boy at school, 
enlisted before the call for the Junior Reserves, and was detailed 
for duty under Maj. M. P. Taylor, at the Fayetteville arsenal. 
He died in 1878 from sunstroke when in command of the Whit- 
ing Rifles, attending the memorial services at Oakdale Cemetery. 

The War Between the States 



From personal knowledge and from available records I have 
added to this narrative the following names of the living and 
the dead identified with Wilmington, which are held in grateful 
remembrance by those who recall their devotion to the Lost 
Cause. Hundreds of others, equally meritorious, are upon the 
roll of honor, but because of limited space I can include only the 
names of company and regimental leaders of the Lower Cape 
Fear, and some others whose record is known to me. 

As has been said elsewhere, prior to the formal secession of 
the State of North Carolina from the Union, affairs in Charles- 
ton had taken such a turn that the citizens of Wilmington antici- 
pated the occupation and strengthening of Forts Caswell and 
Johnston at the mouth of the Cape Fear by the Federal Govern- 
ment. To prevent that, a Committee of Safety was organized 
in Wilmington, and a call made for volunteers to enlist for 
immediate service. This call was promptly answered, and John 
J. Hedrick was chosen commander. These minute men em- 
barked on January 10, 1861, for the mouth of the river and, 
being joined by a Smithville detachment, speedily took posses- 
sion of the two forts. 

The Cape Fear Light Artillery was recruited from the local 
military companies, and especially from the body of minute 
men that took possession of Forts Caswell and Johnston prior 
to the formal secession of the State. Under this name the com- 
pany served throughout the war. 

Gen. W. H. C. Whiting was a distinguished West Point engi- 
neer, a man of great ability. His wife was a Miss Walker, of 
Wilmington, and at the outbreak of the war he was a Wilming- 
tonian by adoption, well-known and highly esteemed. The day 
after the fall of Fort Sumter, he came to Wilmington and by 
courtesy assumed command, and for some weeks directed the 
preparations for defense. He was, however, needed at the front 
and was chief engineer with Gen. Joseph E. Johnston at Har- 
per’s Ferry and at Manassas. After brilliant service in Vir- 
ginia, on November 17, 1862, he again assumed command of the 
defenses of the Cape Fear. 

Wilmington was the most important port of the Confederacy 
for the receipt of supplies and munitions of war, and an officer 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

recognized in both armies as without a superior as an engineer 
was entrusted with its defense. General Whiting entered the 
army with the highest record ever made by any graduate at 
West Point. Having been before the war in charge of the 
improvements of the harbor and the lower part of the river, he 
was entirely familiar with the topography of the country, and 
he exerted every energy for a successful defense. Later, he was 
assigned to the command of a division in Virginia, but in the 
summer of 1864 he returned to the Cape Pear. 

General Whiting was mortally wounded in the second attack 
on Fort Fisher, when he exposed himself with unsurpassed 
heroism. He died a prisoner at Fort Columbus, Hew York 
Harbor, March 10, 1865. His remains were brought home, 
and now rest in Oakdale Cemetery beside those of his most 
estimable wife, who after some years followed him. 

Col. Gaston Meares was appointed colonel of the Third Regi- 
ment on its first organization, with Robert H. Cowan, lieutenant 
colonel, and William L. DeRosset, major. 

Mr. Meares, when quite a young man, moved to the West 
from Wilmington, and engaged in the Mexican War, attaining 
the rank of colonel. On the secession of Horth Carolina, he 
reported to the Governor for duty, and was at once commis- 
sioned as colonel and given command of the Third Regiment, 
then just organized. Colonel Meares was a man of marked in- 
dividuality, respected by his superior officers, beloved by his 
subordinates, and commanded the admiration and confidence 
of the men of his regiment, for he was always intrepid, and in 
him they recognized a leader who would lead. 

At Malvern Hill, July 1, 1862, while on foot in front of the 
line and from a slight elevation surveying the enemy through 
his field glasses, he was instantly killed by a slug from a shrap- 
nel fired from a battery directly in front and not over seventy- 
five yards distant. 

Major DeRosset succeeded his brother-in-law, Colonel Meares, 
in command of the regiment ; Lieutenant Colonel Cowan having 
been promoted before that to the colonelcy of the Eighteenth 

William Lord DeRosset was a member of one of the oldest 
and most prominent families of Wilmington, being the eldest 
of six sons of Dr. Armand J. DeRosset, all of whom served in 
the Confederate Army except one, who, being physically in- 

The War Between the States 


capacitated for active duty, was detailed to the Ordnance and 
Quartermaster’s Departments. In 1861 William L. DeRosset 
was captain of the Wilmington Light Infantry. When Fort 
Sumter was bombarded, several volunteer companies were or- 
dered to occupy Fort Caswell, the Light Infantry being among 
them. Later, when the Constitutional Convention authorized 
the organization of ten regiments, enlisted for the war and 
known as State Troops, he was commissioned major of the 
Third Regiment. Succeeding Colonel Meares in command 
when the latter fell at Malvern Hill, he led the regiment into 
the Battle of Sharpsburg in September, 1862. He was seri- 
ously wounded; and, finding himself permanently disabled, he 
resigned, and was enrolled in another branch of the service. 

When Fort Caswell was first occupied, January 10, 1861, 
the Smithville Guards, a volunteer company, of which Stephen 
D. Thurston was captain, joined the men enrolled in Wilming- 
ton, and took part in occupying Forts Johnston and Caswell. 
Captain Thurston was a few months later appointed captain of 
Company B. of the Third Regiment, and before Sharpsburg 
he had risen to the rank of lieutenant colonel. At Sharpsburg 
when Colonel DeRosset fell wounded, Lieut. Col. Stephen D. 
Thurston took immediate command of the regiment, and proved 
a brave and valiant soldier, leading the Third in gallant style 
during the rest of the battle, where they “were in the vortex of 
the fire, and proved their endurance, tenacity, and valor.” Of 
the twenty-seven officers who went into action on that memor- 
able morning all save three were disabled, seven being killed. 
Colonel Thurston was disabled for several months, hut returned 
to his command in September, 1864. He was again seriously 
wounded on the 19th of September, at Second Winchester. 
Meanwhile, Lieutenant Colonel Parsley was in command dur- 
ing the absence of Colonel Thurston. 

William Murdock Parsley, in April, 1861, was commissioned 
captain of a company he organized and which was composed 
chiefly of the young men of Wilmington. They had formed a 
company in the fall of 1860, under the name of “Cape Fear 
Riflemen,” and were among those who occupied Fort Caswell. 
After North Carolina seceded, the Cape Fear Riflemen returned 
to Wilmington and disbanded. They were almost immediately 
reorganized under Captain Parsley and completely uniformed 
by his father, Mr. O. G. Parsley, sr. The captain was just 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

twenty years old, and many of his men were not much older. 
The company was attached to the Third Regiment, one of the 
ten organized as State Troops and enlisted for the war. They 
were ordered to Richmond in June, and, arriving just after the 
Battle of Seven Pines, Mechanicsville was their first engage- 
ment. They took part in the Seven Days’ Battle, and on July 1, 
at Malvern Hill, Captain Parsley was severely wounded through 
the neck by a minie ball; but, after a three-months’ furlough, 
he returned to his command and was in every battle up to 
Sharpsburg, September 17, 1862. 

Before that time he had by regular gradation reached the 
rank of major, and, subsequently, on the resignation of Colonel 
DeRosset and the promotion of Lieutenant Colonel Thurston, 
he became lieutenant colonel. In the campaign of 1863, known 
as the Pennsylvania Campaign, Colonel Parsley had command 
of the regiment. He led it in the charge at Culp’s Hill on the 
3d of July, when, with the Maryland Battalion, they took pos- 
session of the enemy’s works. The Third was greatly reduced 
by severe fighting at Chancellorsville and had had no chance to 
recruit its ranks since. This proud regiment that went into the 
field over a thousand strong in the Seven Days’ Battle was, after 
Getty shurg, ' so much reduced that the major at the head of the 
column and the assistant surgeon, at the foot, could carry on a 
conversation without effort. Every officer of Major Parsley’s 
old company, the Cape Pear Riflemen, was killed. 

One of the original members of this old company, writing in 
1898 of Colonel Parsley, says, “As brave as the bravest, kind 
and considerate towards inferiors in rank, he was at all times 
thoughtful and careful of his men in every way. I believe all 
loved him. I know I loved him, for he was my good friend.” 
Another comrade says : “The major himself, only twenty-two or 
twenty-three years old, had been in every engagement from the 
Seven Days’ Battle to Gettysburg. His training had been 
under the eye of Col. Gaston Meares, and, as promotion fol- 
lowed promotion, Colonel Parsley was always a disciplinarian 
of the progressive type. On occasion he could be a hoy and 
enter a wrestling match in camp with all the zest of a schoolboy, 
but woe to the officer who presumed upon this to take official 

Between Gettysburg and Chancellorsville he received two 
slight wounds, one being a narrow escape from death by the 
glancing of a hall on the button of his coat. At Spottsylvania, 

The War Between the States 


May 12, 1864, Colonel Thurston being absent, wounded, Lieu- 
tenant Colonel Parsley led the regiment, and with the greater 
part of it, after a desperate hand to hand light at the “Horse- 
shoe,” or “Bloody Angle,” he was captured and confined at Fort 
Delaware. From there, with fifty other officers, he was trans- 
ferred to Charleston Harbor on the prison ship Dragon and 
anchored in the line of fire from Charleston, “in retaliation” for 
the quartering of some Federal officers, prisoners, in the city of 
Charleston as a protection to the city, full of non-combatants, 
against the Federal firing from the “Swamp Angel Battery.” 

The prisoners on the Dragon were kept between decks, over- 
crowded, near a stove where all the cooking for the whole ship 
was done. Ventilation was bad, and the suffering from the heat 
almost unbearable. They were supplied scantily with the coars- 
est of food and subjected to all kinds of indignities. From here 
they were exchanged on the 3d of August. Colonel Parsley 
returned to the army not long afterwards, taking with him a 
number of recruits for his regiment. He shared the fortunes of 
the Third till April, 1865. Just three days before Lee’s sur- 
render, in the engagement at Sailor’s Creek during the retreat 
to Appomattox, when only twenty-four years old, he met his 
death by a minie ball fired by. a sharpshooter, falling with his 
face to the foe. 

Capt. W. T. Ennet, originally of Onslow County, was pro- 
moted to be major after the resignation of Colonel DeRosset, 
and always after that commanded the regiment in the absence of 
Colonel Parsley. He was unfortunately captured at Spottsyl- 
vania and sent to Fort Delaware, and was among those taken to 
Charleston Harbor on the prison ship Dragon , suffering the 
hardships of imprisonment with the rest. Major Ennet was by 
profession a physician and highly accomplished. He was also 
a brave soldier and a warm friend. 

Col. Robert H. Cowan was first chosen lieutenant colonel of 
the Third Regiment, but in the spring of 1862 was elected 
colonel of the eighteenth. The Third Regiment parted with 
sincere regret from Colonel Cowan. The whole command, both 
rank and file, loved him and recognized him as one of those by 
whom the regiment had been brought to its fine efficiency. The 
esteem in which he was held was manifested on his departure 
by the presentation to him by the regiment of a very fine horse. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Colonel Cowan was a native of Wilmington and was prominent 
in the politics of the State. No man was more loved and 
admired than he. His gallantry was unequaled, while his 
charming personality and graceful manners are well remem- 
bered by all who knew him. He was wounded severely at the 
last of the Seven Days Battles around Richmond, and being dis- 
abled from service, resigned in November, 1862. 

Col. John L. Cantwell saw active service in the Mexican 
War, in the War between the States, and subsequently in the 
Spanish- American War. The records say “that seldom has the 
flag of a country waved over a braver soldier. 77 His service 
as colonel of the Thirtieth Regiment, North Carolina Militia, 
in taking possession of Torts Caswell and Johnston on April 16, 
1861, is told elsewhere. On its organization, April 13, 1862, 
Colonel Cantwell was elected colonel of the Fifty-first Regi- 
ment, but resigned and enlisted as a private in Company F, 
Third Regiment, North Carolina Infantry, Capt. William M. 
Parsley, on whose promotion after the Battle of Sharpsburg, he 
became captain of the company, and was a most efficient and 
gallant officer in that famous regiment. Unfortunately, he was 
captured in the “Bloody Angle’ 7 at Spottsylvania Courthouse on 
May 12, 1864, along with nearly the entire regiment, during the 
course of the most terrible engagement of the war. His military 
training was manifest throughout his civil life, in which, as 
agent of the Adams Express Company, as a produce broker, as 
secretary of the Wilmington Produce Exchange, and for many 
years secretary of the Chamber of Commerce, he maintained a 
careful and sometimes exaggerated regard for official detail. 

During the War between the States he kept a diary of im- 
portant events in which he, with other Wilmingtonians, was 
engaged, and this precious little hook, which he carefully 
guarded for nearly fifty years and always carried in his pocket, 
was a veritable vade mecum , or last resort, on any disputed 
point of military history. It contained particularly a careful 
record of the names and incidents connected with the Federal 
retaliation upon six hundred Confederate officers, including 
Colonel Cantwell and Capt. John Cowan, of the Third Infan- 
try, Capt. Walter G. MacRae, of the Seventh Infantry, Capt. 
T. C. Lewis, of the Eighteenth Infantry, Capt. J. D. McMillan, 
of the First Infantry, Capt. F. F. Floyd, of the Fifty-first In- 
fantry, Capt. J. W. Moon, of the Third Cavalry, and Capt. J. 

The War Between the States 


H. Bloodworth, of the Fourth Cavalry, from Wilmington, as 
well as Capt. G. M. Crapon, of the Third Infantry, and Capt. 
H. Earp, of the Twenty-fourth Infantry, from Southport, who, 
by Secretary Stanton’s order, were removed from their quarters 
in the North as prisoners of war and placed under double cross 
fire on Morris Island, exposed to almost certain death. 

When Chief Justice Clark was completing the fifth volume 
of his most valuable Regimental Histories , he requested me to 
persuade Capt. Walter G. MacRae, then mayor of Wilmington, 
to write an account of that expedition for his history. This 
Captain MacRae consented to do, and when the narrative was 
completed, he wisely asked Colonel Cantwell to listen to its 
recital in order that its accuracy might he clearly established. 
The colonel, who was afflicted with deafness, nodded his approval 
until, in describing the incident of the separation of the trans- 
port from its armed convoy while off Wrightsville Beach, and 
a hurried discussion by the prisoners of a proposed attempt to 
escape through the surf and its final rejection because of the 
great risk of life involved, Captain MacRae fell into a habit 
he has of quoting obscure Bible characters and said that the 
counsel of Ahithophel prevailed. Instantly the colonel held up 
a restraining hand, and, with the other cupped to his ear, de- 
manded to know the name of that man. “Ahithophel” repeated 
Captain MacRae. “No, no,” said the colonel, “there was no 
such person abroad.” “But let me explain,” said MacRae. 
“No explanation can falsify this hook,” said the colonel, as he 
ran his fingers down the list of the six hundred. “Ahithophel, 
Ahithophel! No such person aboard, sir, he was doubtless a 
rank impostor” ; and failing to make his meaning clear, Captain 
MacRae was obliged to delete his quotation from the sacred book 
of Samuel. 

Colonel Cantwell’s old-time affability and gentle courtesy 
won him many friends, but while he was patient and responsive 
to polite advances, he was quick to resent a fancied or real 
affront. A few years before his death he attended with his 
accustomed regularity a prominent church service in a neigh- 
boring city. As no usher approached him, he quietly walked 
up the centre aisle, looking smilingly from right to left, expect- 
ing an invitation to be seated, hut, no man regarding him, he 
turned back at the chancel rail and walked quietly out. Pres- 
ently he reappeared in the vestibule with a short piece of scant- 
ling, which he had found near by, and with this improvised seat 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

under his arm, marched solemnly up to the chancel rail and 
deliberately sat in the aisle on the wooden block throughout the 
sermon. Then, as he entertained a strong objection to the offer- 
tory formality in the service as an idolatrous innovation, he 
walked quietly out again, to the evident relief of the congrega- 
tion, who feared he might brain the parson with the piece of 
timber. He bore himself bravely throughout his long and hon- 
ored life and met the infirmities of old age with a smiling coun- 

Besides these, a host of others whose services should not be 
forgotten crowd the memory. Brave Maj. Alexander MacBae, 
of age far too advanced for service in the field in Virginia, 
accepted command of the First Battalion of Heavy Artillery in 
General Hebert’s brigade, and did duty at the mouth of the 
Cape Fear until the fall of Fort Fisher. The gallant old father 
was worthily followed by his brave sons, whose record appears 

John J. Hedrick was major of engineers. He was a brave 
and skillful artillery commander, and had been in active ser- 
vice since the beginning of the war. In the early days of the 
conflict he had charge of the erection of batteries at Confederate 
Point and in the vicinity, one small fort on Bald Head being 
named Fort Hedrick in his honor. When the Fortieth Regi- 
ment (Third Artillery) was organized in December, 1863, 
Major Hedrick was appointed its colonel. This regiment took 
part in the defense of Fort Fisher, December 24 and 25, 1864, 
and January 13, 1865, and on January 17 it was ordered to 
Fort Anderson, about ten miles up the river, where the garrison 
of about 900 men was under the immediate command of Colonel 
Hedrick. On February 17, the enemy attacked the fort in the 
rear with about 10,000 infantry, while Porter, with a fleet of 
sixteen gunboats and ironclads, lying within a few hundred 
yards of the fort, quickly demolished the guns. In this fight, 
under Colonel Hedrick’s leadership, great bravery and heroism 
were shown; but, finding the command in danger of being cut 
off by a heavy column of infantry in the rear, Colonel Hedrick 
determined to evacuate the fort. Carrying all the light guns, 
including the Whitworth cannon, they fell back towards Wil- 
mington. Later, while on the way to meet the enemy advancing 
from Hew Bern, there was a battle at Jackson’s Mills, in which 

The War Between the States 


about 2,000 Federal prisoners were captured; but the Confed- 
erate loss was heavy. Here, while gallantly leading his regi- 
ment in a charge upon the enemy, Colonel Hedrick was seri- 
ously wounded. 

John D. Barry enlisted as a private in Company I, Eighth 
Regiment, and on the reorganization was elected captain of the 
company. On the fall of the gallant Colonel Purdie, of Bladen 
County, in June, 1863, he became colonel of the regiment. He 
was a valiant and dashing officer, and nobly upheld the tradi- 
tions of his family, one of the best of the Cape Fear section, his 
grandfather being Gen. Thomas Owen and his great uncle, 
Gov. James Owen. The companies composing the Eighth Regi- 
ment of Volunteers (afterwards the Eighteenth North Carolina 
State Troops) were: 

The Wilmington Light Infantry, Capt. Henry Savage; the 
Wilmington Rifle Guards, Capt. Robert Williams; the Scotch 
Boys, Capt. Charles Malloy; the German Volunteers, Capt. C. 
Cornehlson; and the companies of Capt. George Tait, of Bladen 
County; Capt. Robert Tait. of Bladen County; Captain Hor- 
ment, of Robeson County ; Captain Gore, of Whiteville, Colum- 
bus County; Capt. J. R. Hawes, of Long Creek, Hew Hanover 

About the first of August, 1864, General Lane being wounded, 
Colonel Barry was appointed temporary brigadier general and 
commanded the brigade, skirmishing almost daily till the 28th. 
Subsequently, while on a reconnoitering tour, Colonel Barry 
was wounded by a sharpshooter. Some time in the latter part 
of 1864, when General Lane returned to the brigade, Colonel 
Barry, on account of his wounds and impaired health, was as- 
signed to departmental duty with his regular grade of colonel. 

After the close of the war, he returned to Wilmington and, in 
partnership with William H. Bernard, began the publication of 
the Dispatch. Only a few years of broken health remained to 
him, and nearly fifty years ago he died in the old house he had 
left in vigorous youth and with high hopes in 1861. 

A few years ago, Col. John D. Taylor passed from our midst, 
leaving a great name as a soldier and a Christian gentleman, 
with an affectionate memory of his manly figure, his gentle, 
sympathetic smile, and the empty sleeve he wore. He was cap- 
tain in the Thirty-sixth Regiment (Second Artillery), was 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

promoted to lieutenant colonel, and served at different points 
in defense of the Cape Fear. After the fall of Fort Fisher, Col- 
onel Taylor fought at Fort Anderson and Town Creek, on the 
retreat to Wilmington, and at Kinston ; and he and a part of his 
regiment made their way to the field of Bentonville and took 
part in that battle, covering themselves with glory as part of the 
“Red Infantry,” Colonel Taylor there losing his left arm. 

Upon the death of Colonel Taylor, the following tribute of a 
devoted friend was published in the Star , May 22, 1912 : 

“A fellow-townsman recently said to the writer: ‘I never 

passed Colonel Taylor upon the street without exercising the 
privilege of shaking his hand, because I believed that he exem- 
plified in his daily life, to a remarkable degree, those virtues 
which adorn the character of the Southern Christian gentleman/ 

“His old-time urbanity, his winsome smile, his almost wom- 
anly tenderness, his gentle patience, his childlike faith, drew 
him to our hearts and we loved him. Probably no citizen of 
our community was more generally respected. There was a 
quiet dignity in this serene, devout Christian, which told of con- 
flicts won while learning to endure hardness as a good soldier, 
and of a peace which passes the understanding of this world, 
which enabled him’ to look o’er heights of toil and sacrifice and 
find his chief meed in thoughts of duty done. 

“During his long and honored life he inspired the hearts and 
guided the steps of worthy sons and daughters in the way of life, 
to the end that they might ‘glorify God and enjoy Him forever.’ 
His children rise up and call him blessed. 

“In public life he discharged his official duties with diligence, 
ability, impartiality, and uprightness. Party lines vanished in 
the pure light of his moral excellence, and his return to office 
at the expiration of each term, without a dissenting vote, attest 
the abiding confidence of his fellow-citizens. 

“Eminent among the local leaders of the Lost Cause, he be- 
lieved, with his great chieftain, that Duty is the sublimest word 
in our language, ‘and by it as a pilot star, he ever steered his 
steadfast course.’ He went into his last battle at Bentonville 
with Company A, Captain Rankin, Company B, Captain Tay- 
lor, Company C, Captain Brown, and Captain McDougal’s com- 
pany, and a remnant of the Thirty-sixth Regiment, in all 350 
men; and he emerged with nineteen other survivors, an honor- 
able record, and an empty sleeve. Rankin, Taylor, McDougal 
and Brown were desperately wounded, and Colonel Taylor was 

The War Between the States 


the only officer who survived the desperate and bloody charge of 
the ‘Red Infantry. 7 

“He sheathed his sword when the cause for which he fought 
was lost, hut he put on the invisible armor of the soldier of the 
Cross, and has fought a good fight and laid hold on eternal 
life. The greater number of his devoted comrades have crossed 
over the river and rest with their commander under the shade 
of the trees. 

“We read that at the roll call of the flower of Napoleon’s 
army, the Imperial Guard, as silence fell upon the utterance of 
a name which death had claimed from the arms of victory, a 
comrade would step forward from the ranks, and, raising his 
hand in grave salute, would answer, ‘Died on the field of honor !’ 
The thin gray line of Appomattox, diminishing day by day as it 
yields to the call of the great Conqueror, still closes up its broken 
ranks of hoary heads and feeble knees. Soon it will vanish 
away and there will be no reverent comrade’s voice to answer 
the roll call of the dead. But ‘Death’s truer name is Onward. 
No discordance in the roll of that eternal harmony whereto the 
worlds heat time!’ 

‘The glory born of goodness never dies, 

Its flag is not half-masted in the skies!’ 

“In the sessions of his beloved church, our friend will he 
greatly missed — in no circle beyond his beautiful home life was 
he more welcome than in that of the church of his fathers. 

“David Worth, DuBrutz Cutlar, Kenneth Murchison, Wil- 
liam DeRosset, Alfred Waddell, John D. Taylor, classmates all 
at Chapel Hill, were of the flower of Wilmington, and they are 
gone; hut to live in the hearts of those we love is not to die. 
‘By the light of their lofty deeds and kindly virtues, memory 
gazes hack into the past and is content ; by the light of Revela- 
tion, hope looks beyond the grave into the bright day of immor- 
tality and is happy.’ ” 

Edward D. Hall organized at Wilmington, in the spring of 
1861, a company composed principally of Irishmen; and no 
better or more loyal men or braver soldiers could be found. 
When work or fighting was to be done they were always ready. 
This company was first stationed at Fort Caswell; was later 
sent to Weldon and attached to the Second Regiment, North 
Carolina Infantry, and ordered to Richmond, and from there 
to various points in Virginia until the spring of 1862, when it 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

was returned to North Carolina with General Holmes’s division, 
and was afterwards detached and sent to the Cape Fear and 
stationed at fortifications on the river. 

In March, 1862, Captain Hall was made colonel of the Forty- 
sixth Regiment, organized at Camp Mangum near Raleigh. 
Ordered to Virginia, this regiment bore a conspicuous part in 
the Battle of Sharpsburg, calling forth from the division com- 
mander especial mention of its gallant colonel and staff for 
distinguished bravery and coolness under fire. During that day 
the regiment occupied several positions of importance and great 
danger, and on every occasion it exhibited that steadiness and 
coolness which characterized its record. In October, at Bristow 
Station, General Cooke fell, and the command of the brigade 
devolved on Colonel Hall. An unequal struggle was waged, 
and disaster was averted only by Colonel Hall’s skillful manage- 
ment of his command. Late in 1863, Colonel Hall resigned to 
accept a civil office in North Carolina, and the regiment lost its 
brilliant commander, a brave man, a good disciplinarian, a most 
valuable and efficient officer. It was with much regret that his 
regiment bade him farewell. 

Alexander Duncan Moore, who at first commanded a battery 
of light artillery from Wilmington, was made colonel of the 
Sixty-sixth Regiment, organized in August, 1863. Colonel 
Moore had been at West Point and was a brilliant young officer 
of remarkable appearance and soldierly bearing. The Sixty- 
sixth was ordered to Virginia in May, 1864, where, in “its first 
baptism of fire on the 15th of May, its gallantry was conspicu- 
ous and favorably commented upon by commanding officers.” A 
series of battles followed, and on the 3d of June, 1864, Colonel 
Moore was mortally wounded, a ball striking him in the neck. 
The memory of his heroic courage was ever after present with 
the officers and men of his command, and comments were made 
upon his gallantry and the soldierly qualities he always ex- 

In the attack on Petersburg Colonel Moore was told that his 
regiment was advancing too rapidly ahead of the right and left, 
and he was directed to preserve the alignment. On receiving 
this order, Colonel Moore seized his colors, planted the staff 
upon the ground, and lifted his sword in the air above his head, 
the well known signal ; his command halted and dressed on the 
colors, until the regiments on the right and left came upon the 

The War Betiveen the States 


same line — then, with a jell, all three sprang forward and 
rushed upon the enemy. The movement was successful and the 
foe retreated. 

George Tait, of Bladen County, who was elected major of 
the Eighth Regiment in July, 1861, resigned his commission, 
and was, with Company K, of the Fortieth Regiment, stationed 
at a battery near Federal Point Lighthouse. On the 1st of 
December, 1863, when the Fortieth Regiment was organized as 
Third Artillery, Captain Tait was appointed lieutenant colonel. 
In January, 1865, he resigned this commission to take one as 
colonel of the Sixty-ninth North Carolina Regiment. Colonel 
Tait was a fine disciplinarian. He remained detached from the 
Fortieth Regiment after it had been formed in order to train, 
drill, and discipline the officers and men of the Thirty-sixth; 
and then he drilled and disciplined the Fortieth, which was 
afterwards pronounced by the inspector general, Colonel Tan- 
sill, “the best drilled regiment of Confederate soldiers” that he 
had ever seen. 

Colonel Tait was a good and brave officer and in his rank had 
no superior. 

Maj. James Dillard Radcliffe, then connected with the Engi- 
neer Department of the Cape Fear defenses, was elected colonel 
of the Eighth Regiment of Volunteers, on its first organization 
in 1861. Colonel Radcliffe, who had been principal of a mili- 
tary school in Wilmington for several years previous to the war, 
was an excellent drillmaster and disciplinarian, and soon had 
the regiment well drilled. On the reorganization in 1862, the 
regiment then being the Eighteenth State Troops, he was not re- 
elected ; but he became colonel of the Sixty-first Regiment when 
it was organized, in August, 1862. 

Alfred M. Waddell, lieutenant colonel of the Forty-first Regi- 
ment (Third Cavalry) was a scion of one of the old and vener- 
ated families of the Cape Fear. He was commissioned lieu- 
tenant colonel in August, 1863, having previously served as 
adjutant. His regiment was scattered over an extended field of 
operations, and operated as detached cavalry, or partisan ran- 
gers. In August, 1864, Colonel Waddell resigned. After the 
war, as long as he lived, he always used his brilliant talent and 
eloquence in behalf of his comrades and his fellow-citizens of 
the Cape Fear. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

In August, 1863, Roger Moore, a descendant of “King” 
Roger Moore, was appointed major of the Third Cavalry. He 
was a brave soldier, maintaining the honor of his ancestors upon 
the field. In August, 1864, when Colonel Waddell resigned, 
Major Moore became commanding officer of the regiment, which 
was looked upon as a bulwark of protection for the railroad 
from Weldon to Wilmington and of all that portion of thirty 
counties east of it which was not in the hands of the enemy. 
Protecting the villages and settlements from forays, guarding the 
cross-roads and bridges, and checking the approach of the enemy 
whenever he advanced beyond his gunboats, this regiment daily 
and hourly did service of vital importance. In 1864 the regi- 
ment was ordered to Virginia and took part in the brilliant 
attack on Reams Station, August 25, 1864, following which 
General Lee wrote to Governor Vance: “If those men who 

remain in North Carolina have the spirit of those sent to the 
field, as I doubt not they have, her defense may he securely 
entrusted to their hands.” 

John Grange Ashe entered the Confederate service in April, 
1861, as lieutenant under Gen. Braxton Bragg, at Pensacola. 
He was appointed acting adjutant general to Gen. Robert Ran- 
som in June, 1862, and later in the same year was made major 
of sharpshooters. He also participated in the Red River cam- 
paign with Gen. Dick Taylor, in 1864. He died in Texas in 

William S. Ashe was appointed major quartermaster July 17, 
1861, and colonel quartermaster, September 25, 1861. He had 
in charge all Confederate transportation east of the Mississippi 
River. Desiring more active service, in the summer of 1862 
he was authorized by President Davis to raise a legion of artil- 
lery, cavalry, and infantry, hut before he had been able to do so, 
he was killed in a railroad accident in September, 1862. 

Dr. Alexander Ashe served as assistant surgeon in the Con- 
federate Navy. He died in Texas, 1866. 

Samuel A. Ashe was appointed lieutenant of artillery on 
April 17, 1861, by Major Whiting, who had assumed command 
of the Cape Pear defenses, and in May was commissioned by the 
State. Although all North Carolina staff appointments ceased 
on the transfer of our troops to the Confederacy on August 20, 
1861, he and Capt. John C. Winder continued at their work 
until November, when he was relieved. Captain Ashe then 
joined, as a volunteer, Company I, Eighth Regiment, at the 

The War Between the States 


front at Coosawhatchie, S. C. ; and later enlisted regularly as a 
private in that company. But in December, the President ap- 
pointed him in the Regular Army, and in March, 1862, the 
commission came to him through Gen. R. E. Lee, then command- 
ing at the South. He was assigned to duty at the Charleston 
arsenal, where he remained until the middle of July, when he 
was appointed acting adjutant general to General Pender, and 
joined Pender’s brigade in Virginia. The night following the 
Battle of Second Manassas, he fell into the enemy’s hands and 
was confined in the Old Capitol Prison until October, when he 
was exchanged. In November he was assigned to duty with 
General Clingman’s brigade, and in July, 1863, became ord- 
nance officer of Battery Wagner, and continued so until the fall 
of that fort in September, when he was ordered to the arsenal at 
Fayetteville, where he served as assistant to the commanding 
officer until the end of the war. On the day General Johnston 
surrendered, Captain Ashe’s chief, General Gorgas, at Char- 
lotte, in the most appreciative terms gave him orders to join him 
across the Mississippi, but later told him he could go home and 
govern himself according to circumstances. 

At the election in 1870, he was elected a representative from 
Hew Hanover and became a very active member of the Legisla- 
ture, chairman of the Finance Committee, and leading member 
of the Judiciary and other committees. In 1874 he edited at 
Raleigh a daily paper, the Evening Crescent , which probably 
did more than any other one instrumentality in bringing about 
the redemption of the State, the Democratic majority that year 
being 12,000. In 1879 he purchased the Observer , and in 1881 
he consolidated the News with it, founding the News and Ob- 
server , of which he was editor until 1894. In 1903 he became 
editor of a Biographical History of North Carolina , of which 
seven volumes have been printed, and in 1908, his History of 
North Carolina (1584-1783) was published. 

Col. John Wilder Atkinson entered the service of the Confed- 
erate States in 1861 as captain of a volunteer company, which 
was assigned as Company A to the Fifteenth Virginia Infantry. 
With this regiment he took part in the action at Big Bethel in 
1861, and at the Battle of Seven Pines served on the staff of 
General McLaws, who took occasion to mention his services in 
his official report. He was then promoted to be major and trans- 
ferred to the nineteenth Virginia Regiment of Artillery. To 
this the Tenth Virginia was added in 1863, and he was pro- 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

moted to colonel of the consolidated command. He took part in 
the Seven Days’ Battle before Richmond, and subsequently 
remained on duty in the Richmond defenses, where he was, 
toward the last, in frequent and arduous service combating the 
Federal raids and defending the city against regular siege. He 
took a prominent part in the defeat of the raider Dahlgren, and 
buried the body of that evil-minded man. For some time he was 
in command of a part of the defenses about the Confederate 
Capital. His last battle was at Sailor’s Creek, where he was 
captured. Thence he was taken to Johnson’s Island, but through 
the influence of his kinsman, Gen. Winfield Scott, was soon 
released without taking the oath. In 1866, Colonel Atkinson 
made his home in Wilmington, where he recently died, leaving 
the heritage of an honored name. 

Capt. Edward H. Armstrong, of Hew Hanover: In 1862 this 
brilliant student of the University at Chapel Hill was orderly 
sergeant of Company G, Third Regiment, Horth Carolina 
Troops. Very soon afterwards he was promoted to be second 
lieutenant of that company, and went through the Seven Days’ 
Battle at Richmond, and with his regiment he participated in 
the Battle of Sharpsburg with great credit and was made cap- 
tain of the company, the captain, E. H. Rhodes, and Lieut. 
W. H. Quince, having been killed in that engagement. His 
subsequent career was conspicuous at Fredericksburg, Chan- 
cellorsville, Gettysburg, and Mine Run, and he met a soldier’s 
death at the Horseshoe, Spottsylvania Courthouse, lamented by 
his comrades for his modest, beautiful character and for his 
soldierly qualities. It was said of him that he wap. fitted to com- 
mand a division. During the Gettysburg campaign, his shoes 
having worn out, he marched barefoot. 

Louis S. Belden ran away as a youth and enlisted at the be- 
ginning of the war in Moore’s Battery, Light Artillery, Tenth 
Regiment, North Carolina Troops, which was, after Moore’s 
promotion to be colonel of the Sixty-sixth Regiment, commanded 
by Capt. John Miller. Sergeant Belden remained with the 
battery until the end of the war, rendering at all times excellent 
service. On his return home, destitute but determined to make 
his way, he appeared in a suit of clothes which his sister had 
made of bedticking, the only available material, and he was not 
long in obtaining honorable employment which led to compara- 
tive independence. He still retains, in his advanced years and 
impaired health, the esteem and confidence of the community. 

The War Between the States 


Charles P. Belles had been employed on the Coast Survey hy 
the United States Government for many years previous to the 
war, and was a man of marked ability. In April, 1861, he was 
assigned to duty as an engineer, and constructed the first battery 
at Confederate Point, called in compliment to him, “Battery 
Bolles.” Por a year or more he was employed with the engi- 
neers, and then transferred to the Fayetteville Arsenal. His 
professional skill was exemplified in the preparation of holts for 
Whitworth guns. An English firm presented a battery of Whit- 
worth guns to the Confederate Government through Colonel 
Lamb at Fort Fisher, by whom they were effectively used at 
long range against the hlockaders and for the protection of the 
blockade runners. The guns were unfortunately received with- 
out ammunition or projectiles, and were worthless until Captain 
Bolles devised at the Fayetteville armory the peculiar bolts 
which were used as projectiles and for which he had no pattern. 
At the arsenal, he was captain of Company A, Sixth Battalion, 
Armory Guards. 

J. H. Boatwright was one of the “Seed Corn” cadets, of 
Charleston, S. C., when the order was issued hy the hard-pressed 
Confederacy that hoys under the military age would he per- 
mitted to go to the front and do a man’s work. He was offered 
a lieutenancy at the age of seventeen, hut his father declared 
that he was too young to command, and so he enlisted as a pri- 
vate in Company B, Citadel Guards. He saw service at Coosa- 
whatchie, and at “Tulafinny,’’ and in one of the engagements 
he was struck by a musket ball. His lieutenant, Mr. Coffin, 
hearing the bullet strike him, assisted in examining the wound, 
which was found to he the mutilation of a small Testament in 
young Boatwright’s breast-pocket. The interesting bullet is 
still preserved hy his family. 

A year or so afterwards he was sent home on sick leave, and 
he found Columbia sacked and burned, hut his mother and sister 
safe. Governor McGraw sent for him and, informing him that 
his secretary had taken fright and departed, offered him the 
position, which he promptly accepted. Later, when the Gov- 
ernor was arrested by the Federals, his secretary was not re- 
garded as of sufficient importance to be placed under guard. 
This resulted in his taking charge of all the State archives, 
which he placed in an old vault, and he kept them in careful 
custody until after the war, when he delivered them to the first 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Gabriel J. Boney, of Wilmington, enlisted in Company H of 
the Fortieth Regiment in March, 1864, at the age of eighteen, 
and was on duty until the war was practically ended, com- 
pleting his service in a Northern prison. He was in the fight 
with the Federal gunboats at Fort Anderson, and at Town 
Creek, having been promoted to be corporal, was in command of 
twenty men on the line. He was also at Bentonville, where the 
North Carolina soldiers made their last demonstration of heroic 
valor. Being captured by the enemy, he was transported to 
Point Lookout, Md., and confined until June 4, 1865. 

Lieut. Alexander Davidson Brown, a native of Scotland, 
earnestly supported the cause of the State during the great war, 
and for four years wore the Confederate gray. Although he 
came to Wilmington as late as 1860, in April, 1861, he enlisted 
as a private in the artillery company of Capt. James D. Cum- 
ming, known as Battery C, of the Thirteenth Battalion. In this 
gallant command he was successively promoted to corporal and 
lieutenant. During his military career he participated in the 
fighting at New Bern and on the Petersburg lines in numerous 
engagements, and took part in the desperate encounters on the 
retreat from Petersburg, and at Appomattox Courthouse pre- 
vious to the surrender. 

Thomas O. Bunting enlisted in the Twentieth North Caro- 
lina Infantry in May, 1861, though only about sixteen years of 
age, but in J uly following withdrew and entered the University 
of North Carolina, where he studied one year. Returning to 
the Confederate service, he became a private in Company C, of 
the Sixty-third Regiment, or Fifth Cavalry, and shared the sub- 
sequent gallant career of this command, taking part in the en- 
gagements at White Hall and Goldsboro, in 1862, and then, in 
Virginia, under the leadership of Baker, Gordon, Barringer, 
Hampton, and Stuart, meeting the enemy on many a field. On 
April 3, 1865, at Namozine Church, he was captured by the 
Federals, and was confined at Point Lookout until June 28. 
Throughout his gallant career he was once seriously wounded, 
receiving a shot through the ankle on the Ground Squirrel Road 
near Petersburg, which disabled him for three months. 

Samuel R. Bunting was captain of Company I, Tenth Regi- 
ment of State Troops, Light Artillery, which was organized at 
Wilmington in May, 1861. This company served at first as 
coast guard at Wrightsville and Masonboro Sounds and in 
March, 1862, moved to Kinston and saw active service in that 

The War Between the States 


vicinity; then returned to Fort Fisher. After the fall of Fort 
Fisher and the evacuation of Wilmington, the regiment joined 
Gen. Joseph E. Johnston, and fought and surrendered with him. 

Bunting’s Battery was engaged for three days at Spring 
Bank, and lost nineteen men killed and wounded. 

James G. Burr was colonel of the Seventh Regiment, Home 
Guards, but did not see actual service in the field. 

Thomas Jefferson Capps was a private in Company E, Third 
North Carolina Infantry, and was in charge of the field ambu- 
lances at the Battle of Chancellorsville when a captain ordered 
him to go to the front, which he refused to do because he was 
under Dr. McRee’s orders and could not leave his post. Finally, 
the officer reluctantly told him that Stonewall Jackson was 
wounded and required immediate attention, but he must act 
with great secrecy. Mr. Capps then drove down the road under 
heavy fire, lifted the general into his ambulance, and brought 
him from the field. lie was kept under guard all night in order 
to prevent the possibility of conveying the distressing news and 
thereby demoralizing the troops. 

Robert E. Calder was elected lieutenant of Company B (of 
Wilson County), which was part of the Second Regiment, and 
served with distinction in this command throughout the war. 
He was severely wounded, losing the sight of an eye. Further 
mention of Lieutenant Calder is made in Colonel Cantwell’s 
narrative of the capture of Fort Caswell. 

Lieut. William Calder was born in Wilmington, May 5, 1844. 
In 1859 he entered the military academy at Hillsboro, and left 
there in May, 1861, having been appointed drillmaster by Gov- 
ernor Ellis, and assigned to the camp of instruction at Raleigh. 
Upon the organization of the first ten regiments of State Troops, 
he was commissioned a second lieutenant of the Third Regiment. 
He served as drillmaster at Garysburg about four months, and 
was then transferred to the Second Infantry as second lieutenant 
of Company K. With this command he participated in the 
Seven Days’ Battle about Richmond; and at Malvern Hill 
he was wounded in the left thigh, causing a disability that con- 
tinued until after the Battle of Sharpsburg. He was in battle 
at Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville, and in most of the 
engagements of Jackson’s and Ewell’s corps; and during the 
three days’ fighting at Gettysburg he was in command of the 
sharpshooters of Ramseur’s brigade. On the return to Orange 
Courthouse he was appointed adjutant of the First North Caro- 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

lina Battalion, Heavy Artillery, and subsequently was on duty 
with his command at Fort Caswell, until that post was evacu- 
ated. He was in the Battles of Fort Anderson, Town Creek, 
and Kinston, and at the Battle of Bentonville he served as act- 
ing assistant adjutant general on the staff of Colonel Nethercutt, 
commanding the brigade of Junior Reserves. From that time 
until the end of hostilities he was with his artillery battalion in 
outpost duty on the upper Cape Fear River. 

James Carmichael, rector of St. John’s Episcopal Church, 
Wilmington, was devoted to the Confederate cause during the 
great struggle. He was compelled to retire from his studies at 
the Alexandria Theological Seminary by the advance of the 
invading armies in 1861. In May of that year he was com- 
missioned chaplain of the Thirtieth Virginia Infantry, and 
was with this command on the field of duty until the spring of 
1862, when he was disabled by lung trouble and was sent on 
furlough to Greensboro. There he remained, unfit for duty, 
until November following, when, at the request of Dr. James L. 
Cabell, post surgeon at Danville, he was assigned as post chap- 
lain at the latter place. In this capacity he served until July 3, 

Anthony D. Cazaux, a well-known citizen of Wilmington, was 
appointed captain and assistant quartermaster of the Eighteenth 
Regiment, North Carolina Troops. The Eighteenth Regiment 
was of the Branch-Lane brigade, and Captain Cazaux acted 
as one of its quartermasters. For many years after the war 
Captain Cazaux was actively and prominently engaged in the 
business affairs of Wilmington and contributed largely to the 
development of its commerce. His genial, kindly nature won 
for him many devoted friends. 

Columbus L. Chestnutt was appointed assistant quarter- 
master of the Thirteenth Battalion, which was organized De- 
cember 1, 1863. 

John Cowan joined the Wilmington Rifle Guards (afterwards 
Company I, Eighteenth Regiment), and took part in the cap- 
ture, April 16, 1861, of Fort Caswell by order of Governor 
Ellis. After a few months he was promoted to lieutenant of 
Company D, Third North Carolina Regiment of Infantry. 

He was present at Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, and vari- 
ous other battles, and served through the Gettysburg campaign. 
Once, in the absence of Captain VanBokkelen, he was left with 
his company to hold a line which had been captured the evening 

The War Between the States 


before, and he defended his position with great tenacity and held 
it until he was ordered out. At Spottsylvania he was captured, 
along with the entire brigade, and sent to Fort Delaware. Sub- 
sequently he was placed under fire at Morris Island, after which 
he was returned to Fort Delaware, where he remained until the 
end of the war. During all his life Captain Cowan was exceed- 
ingly kind to the sailors of this port. He became one of the 
trustees of the Seamen’s Friend Society, and never failed to be 
present at the Bethel meeting on Sunday afternoons. 

The following tribute by a fellow-citizen, on the occasion of a 
memorial meeting after his death, illustrates the character of 
this highly esteemed Cape Fear gentleman: 

“We are called today to add the honored name of John Cowan 
to the long roll of the majority, and to pay our tribute of respect 
to the memory of one of the few members of our society who was 
faithful unto death. 

“For years he has sat with us during our Sabbath service, 
inspiring us by his devout attention and unswerving loyalty 
with more zeal in our sacred cause, and uniting our handful of 
supporters in a closer bond of union and sympathy with the 
thousands of seafaring men, who, dike ships that pass in the 
night and speak each other in passing,’ have heard the friendly 
warning voice of our preacher and vanished from our sight. His 
beaming face, full of sympathetic courtesy, will be sadly missed 
in our assemblies. 

“Like the great leader in the wilderness, whose presence re- 
flected the glory of his God, he wist not that his face so shone. 
That face, so deeply lined of late by weariness and pain, is, I 
believe, radiant now in the presence of Him with whom there is 
fullness of joy. Buffeted by the storms of life and disabled by 
disease and suffering, this sailor’s friend has met his great Pilot 
and cast his anchor within the haven of eternal rest. 

“His eminent public service as a soldier of the Confederacy 
is a part of its history. His native modesty forbade the mention 
by him of his heroic deeds, but who of you will forget the valor 
of that thin line of twenty-five muskets, the remnant of his 
shattered but intrepid command, which held an overwhelming 
force in check at Gettysburg ? When he surrendered his sword 
at the ‘Bloody Angle,’ he retained that invisible armor for the 
good fight of faith from which he has come off more than con- 
queror through Him that loved him and gave Himself for him. 

“I am requested by our recent chaplain, the Bev. Dr. J ames 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Carmichael, who could not be present with us today, to add his 
loving testimony to the work and faith of our dead comrade, 
who for many years encouraged and sustained him as a colaborer 
at the Bethel service. He mourns with us the loss of one of the 
truest friends and supporters whom this society has ever known.” 

William A. Cumming joined the famous Third Regiment, the 
record of which has been given in several sketches, and, about 
a year later, after a fatiguing day’s march, he was exposed all 
night to a soaking rain, which brought on an attack of rheuma- 
tism. He was sent to the hospital and, deriving no benefit, was 
later sent home so emaciated that his father did not at first 
recognize him. Later, he returned to the army, but he never 
fully recovered his health, and he was given a commission in 
the Commissary Department, in which he remained during the 
war. He never recovered from the first exposure in the field 
and died after the war from rheumatism, which attacked his 
heart. He had many warm friends in the Third North Caro- 
lina Infantry and in civil life, for he was a kindly, unselfish, 
Christian gentleman, of fine presence and old-time urbanity. 

Preston Cumming, a survivor of the Cape Fear Artillery, 
enlisted in October, 1861, as a private in the artillery company 
commanded by his brother, James D. Cumming, and known as 
Cumming’s battery. During his service he was promoted to 
sergeant, participated in the fighting on the Petersburg lines 
several months, and was in the Battles of Washington, Kinston, 
and Bentonville, and finally surrendered with Johnston at 

James D. Cumming was second lieutenant of one of the com- 
panies that took possession of Fort Johnston and Fort Caswell 
at the outbreak of the war. This company was assigned soon 
after to the defense of Confederate Point, and in April, 1862, 
was reorganized, with Lieutenant Cumming as captain. A bat- 
tery of field artillery was provided for it, and it bore the name 
of Cumming’s battery. It became part of the Thirteenth Bat- 
talion in December, 1863. In May, 1864, a section of it was 
ordered to Petersburg, Va., and assigned to Moseley’s battalion 
of artillery. The battery, therefore, gave active service to the 
Confederacy both in Virginia and in eastern North Carolina. 

Roger Cutlar, a brother of DuBrutz Cutlar, served through- 
out the war in Moore’s battery. After the war he removed to 
California. He was a courageous and gallant soldier. 

Champ T. N. Davis : Among the officers of Company G, Six- 

The War Between the States 


teenth Regiment, on its organization June 17, 1861, appears the 
name of Capt. C. T. 17. Davis, of Rutherford County. The 
Sixteenth was ordered to Virginia soon after its mobilization, 
proceeded to Valley Mountain, and assisted in holding the gap 
against the Federals under General Rosecrans. Afterwards, it 
was attached to Hampton’s legion around Fredericksburg and 
Yorktown, where it was reorganized, and Captain Davis elected 
its colonel. At the Battle of Seven Pines the regiment was 
exposed to a galling lire from several Federal batteries and lost 
some of its bravest and best officers and men, among whom was 
the gallant Colonel Davis. 

Graham Daves was appointed private secretary to Governor 
Ellis on January 1, 1859, and held that position until the out- 
break of the War between the States. He then joined the army 
as first lieutenant of the Twelfth Volunteers, Col. J. Johnston 
Pettigrew, afterwards known as the Twenty-second Regiment, 
North Carolina Troops, of which he was appointed adjutant, 
July 24, 1861. With this regiment he served until April, 1862, 
being on duty at different times at Raleigh, Richmond, and 
Brooke Station, Va., hut most of the time at Evansport, now 
called Quantico, where the regiment was employed in erecting 
batteries, which some of the companies occupied and served. 
These were the batteries that so long blockaded the Potomac 
River at that point. Lieutenant Daves having resigned his 
commission on November 16, 1863, was enrolled as a private 
and assigned to duty in the conscript office, Raleigh, where he 
remained until July, 1864. He served in various other posi- 
tions until the surrender of General Johnston’s army to General 
Sherman near Greensboro. 

Junius Davis, born June 17, 1845, was a son of George Davis 
and his first wife, Mary Polk. He was in school at Bingham’s 
Institute, in Alamance County, when North Carolina decided to 
cast her lot with the Confederate States, and in the spring of 
1863, being nearly eighteen years of age, he left his books to 
enter the military service. He enlisted as a private in Battery 
C, Third Battalion, North Carolina Artillery, Capt. J. G. 
Moore, and served until the close of the war. For nearly a year 
he was about Petersburg, and was in the Battles of Drewry’s 
Bluff and Bermuda Hundred, and of Fort Harrison lines. In 
the last day’s fight at Petersburg he was slightly wounded, but 
continued on duty during the retreat. The battery being at 
first a part of the rear guard was almost constantly engaged and 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

was roughly handled ; but later it became a part of the van, and 
at the end, Corporal Davis and a small squad escaped without 
surrendering. In civil life, Mr. Davis wore well the mantle 
of his distinguished father. 

After the war he came to the bar and was associated with his 
father, and, like him, became recognized as eminent in his pro- 
fession and particularly distinguished for his learning in corpo- 
ration law and for his admirable management of the affairs of 
the corporations entrusted to his care. 

In 1853, Mr. George Davis became counsel for the Wilming- 
ton and Manchester Railroad and continued as such after that 
property was acquired by the Wilmington and Weldon Railroad. 
Later, he was general counsel of the Atlantic Coast Line, his 
son, Junius Davis, being associated with him, and when he died 
the latter’s professional connection with the company continued. 
In time Junius Davis retired from active practice and his son, 
Thomas W. Davis, a lawyer of recognized ability, who had been 
associated with him, assumed the connection with the company 
from which his father resigned. Thus, for more than sixty 
years, have Mr. George Davis, his son, and his grandson retained 
the position as counsel for this property, a record, as far as 
known, without a parallel in the United States. 

Besides his admirable work as a lawyer, following further in 
the footsteps of his illustrious father, Junius Davis made con- 
tributions to historical literature and won a high reputation for 
research into local history and as an entertaining and versatile 
writer. In particular must he mentioned his masterful address 
on Locke’s Fundamental Constitutions and his exhaustive and 
conclusive article on John Paul Jones, which has been accepted 
as explaining John Paul’s reason for assuming the name of 
Jones. On its publication in the South Atlantic Quarterly , Col. 
A. M. Waddell, Bishop Robert Strange, Prof. J. G. deRoulhac 
Hamilton, Mr. James Sprunt, and others united in the follow- 
ing request : 

“The undersigned, your fellow-citizens, having read with 
great interest and satisfaction your admirable contribution to 
North Carolina history, published in the South Atlantic Quar- 
terly , and desiring that this unique elucidation of the mystery 
of Chevalier Jones’s adopted name be published in pamphlet 
form, in order that it may be placed in public libraries and in 
private collections for future guidance, most cordially felicitate 
you upon its production and request your permission for its 
more extended circulation.” 

The War Between the States 


In this article Mr. Davis shows that John Paul, when in need 
of friends, found them in Allen and Willie Jones, and that he 
assumed the name of Jones because of his association with them. 
The Navy Department, in giving chronological data of the life 
of John Paul Jones, refers to this fact and to Mr. Davis’ article, 
and it may be considered that Mr. Davis has set at rest all 
doubts on the subject. 1 He was a lovable man. There was a 
dignity and charm about Junius Davis by which he came natur- 
ally, and he had an old-fashioned felicity of expression that de- 
lighted his friends. He loved their companionship and that of 
his books, of which he possessed a wonderful store, for his was 
indeed a rich and well-stored mind, described by his illustrious 
father, and in the recent years of his retirement from the 
greater activities of life, it created its own beauty, wealth, 
power, and happiness. He had wisdom and insight, and what- 
ever subject he touched he illumined. He thought deeply upon 
matters pertaining to his legal profession, upon literature and 
politics, and upon the current affairs of life, and when he spoke 
we felt that he had received a vision of the truth, for truth was 
ever his guiding star. 

Another old-time Cape Fear gentleman and soldier of the 
South has crossed over the river and rests under the shade of 
the trees. 

“The sweet remembrance of the just 
Shall flourish when he sleeps in dust.” 

Horatio Davis, a half-brother of Mr. George Davis, served in 
the Confederate Army and later became a judge in Virginia, 
and finally moved to Florida. He was a brave and fearless 

Armand L. DeRosset was elected captain of Company B at 
the formation of the Sixth Battalion, called the Armory Guards, 
which was stationed at the Fayetteville Arsenal and Armory 
during the War between the States. 

Moses John DeRosset was on duty as surgeon in the hospitals 
at Richmond in 1861, and became surgeon of the Fifty-sixth 
Regiment on its organization in the summer of 1862. Dr. 
DeRosset stood high in his profession, having taken a course in 
Europe and being besides an accomplished French and German 

iNew evidence, more recently discovered, however, again unsettles 
the question. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Edward B. Dudley was captain of Company D, Anderson 
Artillery, of the Thirty-sixth Regiment. This regiment was 
stationed at various points of defense along the Cape Fear. On 
November 22, 1864, Captain Dudley was sent with his company 
and others under Maj. James M. Stevenson to Georgia to join 
the Confederate forces opposing Sherman’s advance to Savan- 
nah. Later he returned to Fort Fisher and performed his part 
in the epic defense. 

Guilford L. Dudley : The First Regiment was organized near 
Warrenton in the spring of 1861. G. L. Dudley was appointed 
one of the two quartermasters, and was second lieutenant of 
Company E, First Regiment. He served with distinction 
throughout the Seven Days’ Battle, the South Mountain cam- 
paign, and at Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, 
Gettysburg, and in other battles. The last volley fired by the 
Army of Northern Virginia was fired by North Carolina troops, 
and the First Regiment was among the number. 

Charles D. Ellis: Shortly after the outbreak of the war the 
Legislature of North Carolina, cooperating with the Confed- 
erate Government in defending the entrance of the Cape Fear 
River and Wilmington, passed an act authorizing the formation 
of a battalion of heavy artillery (Ninth Battalion, Heavy Artil- 
lery), to be composed of three companies, to man the defenses 
constructed for the protection of the harbor and the shores elope 
to the Cape Fear Bar. 

The second company (Company B) was organized by Capt. 
Charles D. Ellis, and its members were mostly from Brunswick, 
Duplin, and other counties near New Hanover. Capt. Ellis, 
however, resigned October, 1862, and was succeeded by Capt. 
Jacob W. Taylor. In 1863, the three companies were organized 
into what was known thereafter as the First Battalion of Heavy 

Z. Ellis was one of the three lieutenants in Company B, 
raised by C. D. Ellis, and he served with this company through- 
out the war. 

Henry G. Flanner was originally second lieutenant in Com,- 
pany F, Thirteenth Battalion. A section of this company served 
in the winter of 1863-64 and in the spring of 1864 attached to 
MacRae’s (Tenth) battalion in western North Carolina. This 
battery, under Capt. H. G. Flanner, was ordered to Virginia in 
1862, and served continuously, with the above exception, in 
General Lee’s army. It served on the lines around Petersburg 

The War Between the States 


with great credit. It surrendered at Appomattox. Planner’s 
battery is entitled to the credit of preventing the Federal Army 
from entering Petersburg on the morning of the springing of the 
mine (July 29). 

Capt. Owen Fennell entered the Confederate service as sec- 
ond lieutenant of Company C, First Regiment, under Col. M. S. 
Stokes, in June, 1861. The regiment did good service during 
- the Seven Days’ Battles around Richmond and in the Mary- 
land campaign, and Lieutenant Fennell shared its marching and 
fighting until just after the Battle of Sharpsburg, when he was 
made acting assistant commissary of subsistence, with the rank 
of captain. He continued in this service until the office was 
abolished after the Gettysburg campaign. 

Clayton Giles joined Company I, Sixty-third Georgia Volun- 
teers, in 1863, and served in that command throughout the war, 
surrendering at Greensboro under Gen. J. E. Johnston. 

Norwood Giles enlisted as a youth in Moore’s battery, Light 
Artillery, Company E, Tenth Regiment North Carolina Troops, 
afterwards (on Moore’s promotion to colonel) commanded by 
Capt. John Miller. Endowed by nature with a most genial, 
pleasing personality, he endeared himself throughout the war 
and for years afterwards to a wide circle of devoted friends. 
His untimely death, December 11, 1899, was greatly mourned 
in our community, and the following lines of appreciation were 
written by one who esteemed him very highly : 

“We mourn the death of one in the flower of his manhood 
who served so well the purpose of his Creator, and who filled so 
completely the hearts of his friends with loving trust and ad- 
miration, that the name of Norwood Giles should be inscribed 
upon the record of our noblest and best. Who can measure in 
this world the quiet influence of a Christian man ? He was the 
truth of God impersonated, living and moving among men in 
daily deeds of goodness, shining in the image of his Maker, and 
quietly fulfilling a great and noble purpose. 

“Such was his character. A thousand sympathetic hearts will 
pay the tribute of a sigh that he is gone, and many lives will he 
the better for his unsullied life, which combined the freedom 
and joyousness of a child with the chivalry and strength and 
self-control of a Christian gentleman. Endowed with superior 
intellectual gifts, his scope of knowledge was varied and exten- 
sive. Exact and methodical in all the details of his business, 
which he conducted with marked ability and skill, he was also a 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

close observer of men and affairs and well informed upon the 
important questions of the day. 

“He ever found solace and joy in the freedom of country 
life. He loved to breathe the clear air of heaven ; the ocean and 
its wonders and the marvelous flora of our region were sources 
of delight to him, for he found more pleasure in the lilies of the 
field and in the shells of the sea than in all the arts of man’s 
device. The joyous notes of the mocking-bird, the sighing of 
the pines, and the voices of the deep were music to his ear, and 
the modest Drosera and Dioncea were to his admiring eyes 
among the masterpieces of creation. 

“In all the manly sports and healthful pleasures of the sound 
he was an ardent and successful leader. His sprightly, generous 
nature, his exquisite wit and humor, made him ever welcome in 
social life, and his charming pen sketches of the annual regatta, 
which were as fresh and breezy as the salt sea air, were always 
read with feelings of pleasure and delight. 

“The kindly, beaming smile is gone, the joyous laugh is 
hushed, and the captain of the winning boat has met his Pilot 
on the boundless tide. Sincerity and simplicity went hand in 
hand with him, who was to rich and poor, to lowly and exalted, 
the same in high-bred courtesy and never-failing kindliness.” 

William Henry Green entered the service as a private in the 
Branch Artillery, Capt. A. C. Latham, in July, 1862. In the 
following year he was detailed as sergeant major of the battalion 
of Maj. J. C. Haskell, to which Latham’s battery was attached, 
and he served in this capacity during the remainder of the war. 
He had an active career as artilleryman, participating in the 
famous Battles of Cedar Bun, Second Manassas, Chantilly, 
Warrenton Springs, Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, Spottsylvania, 
and Second Cold Harbor, and throughout the siege of Peters- 
burg and the retreat to Appomattox, where he was paroled. 

Maj. Edward Joseph Hale volunteered as a private in the 
Bethel Begiment, of which D. II. Hill was colonel, the day after 
Lincoln’s proclamation calling for troops. He was in the first 
pitched battle at Big Bethel, June 10, 1861. When that regi- 
ment was disbanded, Governor Clark appointed him a second 
lieutenant of North Carolina Troops. In 1862 he was ap- 
pointed first lieutenant and adjutant and assigned to duty with 
the Fifty-sixth North Carolina Begiment, Bansom’s brigade. 
He participated in all the engagements of that command in 
Virginia and eastern North Carolina, and distinguished himself 

The War Between the States 


for his coolness and bravery. Though little over twenty-one 
years of age, General Longstreet recognized his ability and ap- 
pointed him judge advocate of the Department of Court-martial. 
His ability, fighting record, and general qualifications were 
known to Brigadier General Lane, and that officer, after the 
death of Capt. George B. Johnston, tendered him the position of 
adjutant general of his brigade of veterans in the fall of 1863. 
Captain Hale displayed such strong character in the conduct of 
his duties that before the close of the terrific campaign of 1864 
he was the idol of the troops. His behavior on the battlefield 
was extraordinarily cool and courageous. In the Wilderness, at 
Spottsylvania, and Turkey Ridge ; in many battles before Peters- 
burg, after Grant had crossed to the south side of the James ; at 
Deep Bottom, Gravelly Hill, Riddle’s Shop, and Fussell’s Mill; 
at Reams Station; in the battles of the 2d of April, 1865, in the 
morning, and later at Battery Gregg and Battery 45 ; at Amelia 
Courthouse, Farmville, and other engagements on the retreat to 
Appomattox, he distinguished himself, fighting with conspicu- 
ous gallantry. Hot long before the close of the war a remark- 
able tribute was paid to Captain Hale’s bravery and skill. Upon 
the petition of the major commanding the Twenty-eighth Horth 
Carolina Regiment and all of its officers present, he was recom- 
mended by his brigade, division, and corps commanders for the 
colonelcy of that regiment because of conspicuous gallantry and 
merit. Later, he was appointed major on the staff. 

B. Frank Hall served throughout the war as a member of the 
Duplin Rifles, or Company A of the Forty-third Regiment, 
Horth Carolina Infantry. He entered the service as a private, 
but soon rose to the rank of first sergeant. Sergeant Hall was 
on duty with his regiment in Daniel’s brigade during the Seven 
Days’ Battle before Richmond, was under fire at Malvern Hill, 
and afterwards at Drewry’s Bluff and Suffolk, and from Decem- 
ber, 1862, to June, 1863, he was on duty in Horth Carolina, 
participating in the affair at Deep Gulley. He took part in the 
terrific fight of July 1 at Seminary Ridge and the next two days 
of the Battle of Gettysburg, and in the affair at Hagerstown, 
on the retreat from Pennsylvania. Subsequently being attached 
to Hoke’s brigade, he served in Horth Carolina at the Battle of 
Bachelor’s Creek, the siege and capture of Plymouth, and the 
skirmishes before Hew Bern. Returning thence to Virginia, he 
participated in the battles at Hanover Junction and Bethesda 
Church; and on March 25, 1865, he took part in the assault 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

upon the Federal works at Hare’s -Hill. On the morning of 
April 2, prior to the evacuation of Petersburg, he was in com- 
mand of a squad of twelve men, which, with a similar squad 
from the Forty-fifth, entered Fort Mahone, then in the hands 
of the enemy, capturing 100 prisoners, and he aided effectively 
in the gallant fighting which forced the Federals from the lines. 
During the retreat, Sergeant Hall was in the battle at. Sailor’s 
Creek; and at Appomattox, Sunday morning, he joined in the 
last assault upon the enemy. 

Dr. William White Harriss was horn in 1824, and was grad- 
uated from the University of North Carolina in 1842. He 
entered the Confederate service as surgeon of the Sixty-first 
Regiment, North Carolina Volunteers, and was on duty chiefly 
around Charleston until 1863, when General Whiting appointed 
him surgeon of the City Garrison at Wilmington, where he re- 
mained until the surrender. When Wilmington was evacuated 
he was appointed by General Bragg to remain there as surgeon 
to take care of the sick and wounded Confederate soldiers. 

Maj. Gabriel H. Hill, son of Dr. John Hill, of Kendal, ap- 
pointed a lieutenant in the United States Army in 1855, came 
home and served with high distinction at the Battle of Roanoke 
Island, and afterwards across the Mississippi. He was a very 
fine officer. After the war he lived in Virginia. 

Lieut. John Hampden Hill enlisted early in the winter of 
1863, at Smithville, in Company H, Fortieth Regiment, and 
was commissioned second lieutenant by Governor Vance. He 
was with his command at Fort Anderson during the bombard- 
ment, and in the Battles of Town Creek, Wilmington, North- 
east River, Wise’s Fork, Kinston, and Bentonville, receiving a 
wound in the left leg in the last battle. 

Thomas Hill, M.D., entered the Confederate service in April, 

1861. He was commissioned assistant surgeon, Confederate 
States Army, in July, 1861, and from that date until March, 

1862, was in charge of the general hospital at Fredericksburg, 
Va. Subsequently he was in charge of the general hospital at 
Goldsboro until May, 1862, when he was promoted to surgeon 
in the Confederate Army and appointed to the presidency of 
the medical examining hoard at Raleigh; he was also put in 
charge of General Hospital No. 8, at Raleigh, the building now 
known as Peace Institute. Remaining there until April, 1864, 
he was then assigned as surgeon to the Fortieth Regiment, 
North Carolina Troops, and in December following was ap- 

The War Between the States 


pointed chief surgeon of the North Carolina Reserves, on the 
staff of General Holmes. After this distinguished career, which 
was brought to a close by the surrender at Greensboro, he 
resumed the practice of his profession. 

In April, 1861, Lieut. George W. Huggins was mustered into 
military service as a private in the Wilmington Rifle Guards, 
which was later assigned as Company I to the Eighth (Eigh- 
teenth) North Carolina Regiment, one of the volunteer regi- 
ments of the State first organized. Private Huggins was pro- 
moted to first corporal in September, 1861, and to second 
lieutenant in April, 1862. With his regiment, in the Army of 
Northern Virginia, he took part in the following battles : Han- 
over Courthouse, Mechanicsville, Cold Harbor, Fraser’s Farm, 
and Malvern Hill. At the close of the bloody Seven Days’ 
Battles around Richmond, at Harrison’s Landing, he received a 
severe wound in the foot, which disabled him until July, 1863. 
He then returned to his regiment in Virginia, but was detailed 
for duty in the Quartermaster’s Department at Wilmington, 
where he remained until the city was evacuated, when he made 
his way to Johnston’s army and was paroled with it at Greens- 

James B. Huggins was second lieutenant of Company G, 
Thirteenth Battalion, and was later assigned to service in the 
Quartermaster’s and Paymaster’s Departments, with the rank 
of captain. 

John Christopher James entered the Confederate service in 
1863, at the age of sixteen, in Company B, Third Junior Re- 
serves, afterwards the Seventy-second Regiment, North Carolina 
Troops, Colonel Hinsdale commanding. He was made orderly 
sergeant of Company D, under Captain Kerr, and later commis- 
sioned third lieutenant, and served in the first bombardment of 
Fort Fisher, in the engagement at Kinston (Hoke’s division), 
and also at the Battle of Bentonville. He surrendered with 
General Johnston’s army at Bush Hill, April 26, 1865, and was 
paroled with his regiment, May 2, 1865. 

He possessed in common with his brother Theodore, to whom 
eloquent reference was made in the sketch of the Third Regi- 
ment by Capt. John Cowan and Capt. James I. Metts, a most 
attractive personality; and in his devoted, useful life were 
blended the finest characteristics of the old-time Southern gen- 
tleman. Beloved by all who knew him, his memory still lives 
in the hearts of his friends. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Theodore C. James was an adjutant in the Third Regiment. 
In writing of him Captain Cowan and Captain Metts say: 
“Adjutant Theodore C. James has also crossed the narrow 
stream of death. Our pen falters when we attempt to pay 
tribute to his memory; companion of our youth, friend of our 
manhood. For him to espouse a cause was to make it a part of 
his very self. Intrepid, no more courageous soldier trod the 
soil of any battlefield upon which the Army of Northern Vir- 
ginia encountered a foe. The impulses of his nature were mag- 
nanimous; no groveling thoughts unbalanced the equity of his 
judgment. True to his friends and to principle, he remained as 

‘Constant as the Northern Star 

Of whose true, fixt, and resting quality 

There is no fellow in the firmament.’ 

Leaving his right arm upon a battlefield in Virginia, and exempt 
for that cause from further military duty, he disdained any 
privilege which such disability brought to him, and continued 
in active service until the last shot had been fired, ‘arms stacked’ 

Stephen Jewett, when sixteen years of age, joined Ripley’s 
brigade, Forty-fourth Georgia Regiment of Infantry, near Rich- 
mond, July 1, 1862, just after the Seven Days’ Battle; and he 
served with that regiment until May 10, 1864, never missing a 
day’s service, skirmish, or battle in which his regiment partici- 
pated. He was in the engagements at South Mountain, Sharps- 
burg, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Warrenton Springs, 
Morton’s Ford, the Wilderness, Gettysburg, and Spottsylvania, 
where he was captured, May 10, 1864, and taken to Fort Dela- 
ware. He remained a prisoner of war until March 10, 1865, 
when he was sent back to Richmond on parole, and was on parole 
furlough when the surrender of the Army of Northern Virginia 
ended the war. He entered the army as a private when he could 
scarcely carry a musket, and he continued to serve throughout 
the war in that capacity with ever increasing efficiency. Stead- 
fastness, tenacity of purpose, cheerfulness in devotion to duty, a 
high sense of integrity, have marked his career from boyhood to 
comparatively old age. 

J. Pembroke Jones, a prominent officer in the United States 
Navy, resigned his commission and joined the Confederate 
Navy. Fie was first lieutenant commanding on the iron- 
clad sloop-of-war Raleigh, which carried four guns, and which 
attacked and broke the Cape Fear blockade. He served with 

The War Between the States 


distinction in several departments of the Confederate Navy, and 
after the war was employed by the Argentine Republic upon 
important military defenses. 

James G. Kenan: “Man must endure his going hence even 
as his coming hither, ripeness is all.” 

On the 9th of January, 1912, James G. Kenan went, as must 
all mortal men, back upon the pathway by which he came — back 
to the great unknown. His sun went down after it reached the 
zenith and began receding toward the west. When it set be- 
yond our vision, darkness fell upon thousands of devoted and 
admiring friends, and many hearts were sad. 

Some men flower early; others late. Captain Kenan was a 
noted man in early life, and was at his best when the final sum- 
mons came. When he passed away he left an enviable record 
as a soldier, public official, and private citizen, and the work he 
did will grow brighter and brighter as the years pass until 
it becomes his lasting monument, more enduring than marble 
and brass and forever sacred in the hearts of his grateful coun- 
trymen. His deeds of kindness, of charity, and of generosity 
will ever keep alive his memory and frequently call to recollec- 
tion the glory of his name. 

Captain Kenan was a true man, a lover of justice, a believer 
in the supremacy of the law, a friend of every cause that lacked 
assistance. In his views he was broad and liberal, had charity 
for all, trusted the people, and never lost faith in humanity. 

He was a fine type of the Southern gentleman of the old 
school, being the descendant of a long line of Southern ancestry ; 
but still he was a plain, simple man, who loved his fellow-man, 
a friend of the toiler and an eloquent advocate of the oppressed. 
He had faith in his Creator sufficiently abiding to illumine his 
soul when he reached the river which all of us must some day 
cross. Not given to loud professions or vain boastings of a 
religious experience, yet deep down in his heart was a well of 
love and trust which was constant in its flow towards the Saviour 
of mankind. During all his life he exemplified the human side 
of religion by doing what he believed to be right. In this respect 
his faith was fixed. His purposes were strong. His constant 
effort was to lift all persons with whom he associated to higher 
conceptions of life and duty. 

His personal character was as spotless as a maiden’s, and as 
unsullied as a ray of light. The memory of his just, virtuous, 
and upright life will linger in the minds of all who knew him. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Upon the occasion of his death the Janies G. Kenan Chapter, 
Daughters of the Confederacy, and the Confederate Veterans 
of Warsaw, in convention assembled, passed the following reso- 
lutions : 

1st. That by the death of Captain Kenan, the chapter of the Daugh- 
ters which hears his name has lost a devoted friend and counselor; the 
Confederate Veterans, a noble comrade and an ever-ready champion of 
the cause which they so nobly espoused, and his bereaved family, a 
devoted husband and loving father. 

2d. That a copy of these resolutions be spread upon the minutes of 
the Daughters, a copy be sent the family, and a copy to each county 
paper, and one to some State paper. 

Captain Kenan was the last of a family of three sons and a 
daughter of the late Owen R. Kenan and was born near Kenans- 
ville, of Scotch-Irish parentage, being descended from Thomas 
Kenan, who settled in Duplin County about one hundred and 
seventy-five years ago. The family has been for years one of 
the most prominent in the State of Horth Carolina. 

He served the county of Duplin several terms as sheriff and 
enjoyed the confidence and esteem of his fellow-citizens in every 
walk of life. At the outbreak of the war, with his distinguished 
brothers, William Rand Kenan and Thomas S. Kenan, he early 
enlisted in the cause of the Confederacy, and was captain of a 
company in the Forty-third Regiment, Horth Carolina Troops, 
Confederate States Army. He was captured at Gettysburg and 
confined later in a Federal prison. He was a gallant soldier 
and numbered among his comrades many of the veterans of the 
war throughout Eastern Carolina. 

Captain Kenan was about seventy-two years old. He is sur- 
vived by his wife, three sons, and one daughter, his children 
being Dr. Owen Kenan of Hew York, resident physician for the 
season at the chain of Palm Beach hotels, Mr. Thomas S. Kenan, 
of Atlanta, Graham Kenan, Esq., of the law firm of Kenan & 
Stacy, in Wilmington, and Miss Emily Kenan, of Kenansville. 

Thomas S. Kenan: In 1735, when Henry McCulloh and a 
number of Irish gentlemen obtained from the King grants in the 
province of Carolina for more than one million acres of land, 
several large tracts were laid off for them in upper Hew Han- 
over, now embraced in Duplin and Sampson Counties, in which 
settlers from the north of Ireland located, among them Colonel 
Sampson and Thomas Kenan. From that day the Kenan family 
has remained in the settlement, or near to it, where their ances- 

The War Betiveen the States 


tors in America first located. “A race of gentlemen/’ writes 
Captain Ashe in his Biographical History of North Carolina, 
“ever observant of their obligations, they have always been held 
in high esteem and have taken a prominent part in regard to all 
great questions that have concerned the public welfare.” The 
Kenan family came from Scotland to Ireland in 1700; thence 
to the Cape Fear in 1735; and in the succeeding generation 
James Kenan was a zealous, daring, and brilliant patriot officer 
during the War of Independence. His son, Thomas, after serv- 
ing in the General Assembly, was a member of the United States 
Congress from 1805 to 1811, and his grandson, Owen R. Kenan, 
the father of Col. Thomas Stephen Kenan, also served several 
terms in the General Assembly and was a member of the Con- 
federate Congress. 

Thomas Stephen Kenan obtained his early education at the old 
Grove Academy, of Kenansville, under the venerated Rev. James 
Menzies Sprunt. This was an institution that educated many 
of the brightest young men of the Cape Fear section. He was 
afterwards at the Central Military Institute in Selma, Alabama, 
and later entered Wake Forest College. In 1857 he was gradu- 
ated from the University of Korth Carolina with the degree of 
A.B., and the next year the University conferred upon him the 
degree of A.M. Having determined to become a lawyer, he 
spent two years studying with Chief Justice Pearson, at Rich- 
mond Hill, and entered upon the practice of law at Kenansville 
in 1860. In 1859 the Duplin Rifles was organized in Kenans- 
ville, and in 1861 this company volunteered under Thomas 
Stephen Kenan as its captain, and was assigned to the First, 
or Bethel, Regiment, and afterwards to the Second Regiment. 
At the end of the year, it was reorganized and assigned to the 
Forty- third Regiment, and Colonel Kenan was made lieutenant 
colonel, on April 24, 1862, becoming colonel. His regiment was 
assigned to Daniel’s brigade and was engaged in the operations 
before Richmond, Colonel Kenan winning high laurels. The 
next year, as a part of Rhodes’s division, the Forty-third under 
Colonel Kenan carried the flag to Carlisle, Pa. Returning to 
Gettysburg on the first of July, Colonel Kenan was in the hard 
fight on Seminary Ridge that day and was under fire all the 
next day, his regiment supporting a battery of artillery on 
Seminary Ridge, and on the third day he participated in the 
desperate assault on Culp’s Hill. While leading a charge, he 
fell severely wounded, and, while being borne to the rear in an 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

ambulance train the next day, he was captured. He was con- 
fined on Johnson’s Island, a prisoner of war, until March, 
1865, when he was paroled, together with a number of other 
prisoners, but he was never exchanged. 

The war over, he returned to Kenansville to the practice of 
law and served in the Legislature of 1865-66 and 1866-67, and 
his wisdom was shown in those sessions of the General Assembly, 
made up of the best men in the State, who sought patriotically 
to conform the laws of the State to the changed conditions that 
resulted from the war. Of course when Reconstruction came 
on he was retired to private life, but then, as during the war, 
he was regarded as the natural leader of his people. In 1868 
he led the party fight as the Democratic candidate for Congress 
in his district. 

In 1869 he moved to Wilson to practice his profession, and 
shortly afterwards he became mayor of the town and the most 
progressive citizen of that growing community. To this day 
the people of Wilson point with pride to the fact that he was 
the first mayor to introduce progressive measures, to light the 
town, to improve the streets, and to make it what he always 
loved to think it, “the village beautiful.” 

In 1876, in the great campaign led by Vance for governor, 
the campaign that redeemed North Carolina, the Democrats 
put up a ticket of superior men. “There were giants in those 
days.” The ticket made up of Vance and Jarvis and Kenan 
and Saunders and Worth and Love and Scarborough represented 
the brains and chivalry and sterling worth of the State, and the 
character of those men had much to do with the victory that 
was won in the election. Vance, of course, towered above all, 
but none of that great combination stood higher in all the vir- 
tues of noble manhood than Thomas Stephen Kenan. When he 
was elected attorney general, he measured up to the duties of 
that great office and broadened and deepened the respect of the 
people of the State, which had been given him in full meas- 
ure in every community in which he had lived and in every 
station to which he had been called. For eight years he was 
attorney general, and upon the conclusion of this period re- 
turned to Wilson to the practice of his profession. But in 
February, 1886, Colonel Kenan was selected by the Supreme 
Court as clerk of that court. He was learned and wise enough 
to preside over the court itself. He made a distinguished and 
faithful official. Conscientious in the highest degree, faithful 

The War Between the States 


in the smaller as well as the greater duties, a master of detail, 
he let nothing come between him and public duty, and he set 
an example of official conduct worthy of lasting emulation. 

In 1904 he was elected president of the State Bar Association, 
and his address upon that occasion contained words of wisdom 
as the result of long experience and wide observation. He held 
the highest ideals of his profession, and by precept and example 
sought to inspire a devotion to the highest ethics in its practice. 

Colonel Kenan was a trustee of the University College of 
Medicine, at Richmond, Va., took deep interest in the organiza- 
tion of the Oxford Orphan Asylum, of which he was a director, 
and held the highest offices in the gift of the Masonic Order, of 
which he became a member in early life. 

On the 20th of May, 1866, Colonel Kenan married Miss 
Sallie Dortch, a daughter of the late Dr. Lewis Dortch, of 
Edgecombe County, and their home was ever the center of a 
delightful social life illustrative of the best hospitality and hap- 
piness of the South. Having no children of their own, the 
home of Colonel and Mrs. Kenan was the home of their nieces 
and nephews, to whom Colonel Kenan maintained a fatherly 
relationship that was most beautiful and endeared him to them 
as if he had been in truth their father. His niece, Mrs. Henry 
M. Flagler, during childhood and young womanhood was always 
in his home, and was to him as a daughter. 

Colonel Kenan was the oldest of five children, the sons of 
Owen Rand Kenan and Sarah Graham. He was born February 
12, 1838, and was nearly 13 years old at the time of his death. 

From the day he graduated at Chapel Hill in 1851 the master 
passion of his life, outside his own family, was his love for the 
University of Forth Carolina. He was one of those who led in 
the reopening of the University in 1815, after its doors had 
been closed under Reconstruction, and he was one of its trustees 
thirty years or more. Fever when in health did he miss attend- 
ing a meeting of the trustees of the University or a commence- 
ment at Chapel Hill. For many years he was a member of the 
Executive Board. For nearly a quarter of a century he was 
also the president of the Alumni Association and looked forward 
to its annual meetings with joy and delight. Except Dr. Kemp 
P. Battle, no one in the State did as much for the University 
as Colonel Kenan. 

Knowing for months that the end was near, Colonel Kenan 
not long before his death selected in Oakwood Cemetery, in 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Raleigh, the city in which he lived over twenty-five years, a lot 
in which he wished to he buried. It is as near as he could 
secure it to the Confederate Cemetery, where his comrades 
sleep in honored, though some in unknown, graves. 

Capt. William Rand Kenan enlisted as a private in the 
Forty-third Regiment in November, 1863, while attending the 
University of North Carolina. He was at once detailed as 
sergeant major. In May and June, 1864, he was acting adju- 
tant of his regiment, and after that, on account of his gallantry 
at the Battle of Bethesda Church, he was ordered by General 
Grimes to take command of the sharpshooters from his regiment, 
with the rank of lieutenant. While serving in this capacity, 
he was shot through the body in the fight at Charles Town, 
in the Shenandoah Valley, August 22, 1864, which compelled 
him to remain at home sixty days. On recovery, he was as- 
signed to the command of Company E, Forty- third Regiment, 
by Colonel Winston, who sent in an application for his promo- 
tion to second lieutenant on account of distinguished gallantry. 
This bore the warm endorsement of General Grimes and was 
approved by General Early. After three weeks service in com- 
mand of Company E, he was appointed adjutant of the regi- 
ment, the rank which he held to the close of hostilities. 
Among the battles and skirmishes in which he was engaged were 
the following: Plymouth, Drewry’s Bluff, Bethesda Church, 
Gaines’s Mill, Cold Harbor, Harper’s Ferry, Monocacy, Wash- 
ington, D. C., Snicker’s Ford, Kernstown, Winchester, Hare’s 
Hill, Petersburg, Sailor’s Creek, Farmville, and Appomattox 

George W. Kidder was a lieutenant in Company A, First 
North Carolina Battalion, until he resigned in 1862 or 1863. 

Charles Humphrey King entered service in the Wilmington 
Rifle Guards, in April, 1861, serving in the occupation of Fort 
Caswell. This company was assigned to the Eighth Regiment, 
North Carolina Infantry, and he continued with it, earning 
promotion to corporal and fourth sergeant, until June, 1862, 
when the period of enlistment expired. He then became a 
private trooper in the Scotland Neck Rifles; and eight or ten 
months later he was transferred to the Sixty-first Regiment, 
North Carolina Infantry, as quartermaster sergeant. He was 
on duty with this command until the surrender of Johnston’s 

Lieut. William Emmett Kyle enlisted at the first call to serv- 

The War Between the States 


ice in the famous First Regiment of Volunteers, under Col. 
D. H. Hill, and shared the service of that command at Big 
Bethel. After the disbandment of that regiment, he entered the 
Fifty-second Regiment of State Troops, and was commissioned 
lieutenant of Company B. With this regiment, in Pettigrew’s 
brigade, he fought in the Army of Northern Virginia, at 
Franklin, Hanover Junction, Gettysburg, Hagerstown, Falling 
Waters, Bristow Station, Culpeper, Mine Run, the Wilderness, 
Spottsylvania Courthouse, Cold Harbor, Petersburg, Drewry’s 
Bluff, Hatcher’s Run, Southerland’s Station, Reams Station, 
Amelia Courthouse, and F armville, and he surrendered at Appo- 
mattox, April 9, 1865. Lieutenant Kyle was wounded three 
times — at Gettysburg, Spottsylvania Courthouse, and Peters- 
burg — in the head, hip, and leg, and was taken prisoner at 
Petersburg, but managed to escape a few hours later. At the 
time of the surrender at Appomattox he was in command of the 
sharpshooters of MacRae’s brigade. 

Col. William Lamb came to Wilmington with General Ander- 
son, and at first was quartermaster. His great efficiency caused 
him to be elected colonel of the Thirty-sixth Regiment, which 
was formed of ten artillery companies for local defense. On 
July 4, 1862, he was assigned to the command of Confederate 
Point, succeeding Major Hedrick. He advanced the construc- 
tion of Fort Fisher, greatly enlarging and strengthening the 
works and making it, by 1865, one of the strongest fortifications 
in the world. In particular he constructed the Mound Battery, 
of a great height, commanding the inlet and intended to protect 
the blockade runners and to keep the port open, both of these 
objects being successfully accomplished. He was at every point 
a most efficient officer, and his defense when the fort was as- 
saulted in 1865 was heroic. 

As a man Colonel Lamb was of the most attractive personal- 
ity. A comrade says of him : “Lamb was one of the most lov- 
able men in existence, a fine, dashing young Confederate offi- 
cer.” After the war he returned to Norfolk, where he lived 
for many years an active, useful life. 

John R. Latta was adjutant of the Fifty-first North Caro- 
lina Regiment, organized at Wilmington, April 13, 1862. 
About December 1, this regiment was on picket duty near New 
Bern, and was under fire for the first time near Goldsboro on 
December 17. 

In February, 1863, the Fifty-first Regiment proceeded to 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Charleston, thence to Savannah, and later camped on James 
Island, returning to Wilmington on May 1, along with the 
other regiments of Clingman’s brigade. About July 1, the regi- 
ment was sent to Morris Island as a part of the garrison for 
Battery Wagner. Remaining at Charleston until November 
24, it returned to North Carolina, and was stationed at Foster’s 
Mill in Martin County. On January 5, 1864, the regiment 
went to Petersburg, but later in the month it returned to North 
Carolina, and engaged in a sharp skirmish at Bachelor’s Creek, 
driving the enemy into New Bern. On May 12, the Fifty-first 
marched to Drewry’s Bluff, and on the 18th and 19th to Cold 
Harbor, where on J une 1 the Battle of Cold Harbor was fought. 

From August 19 to December 24, the Fifty-first Regiment 
was engaged in meeting a raiding party operating on the Wil- 
mington and Weldon Railroad, and in assaulting Fort Harri- 
son; after which it proceeded to North Carolina, where it was 
needed on account of Butler’s threatening Fort Fisher. After 
the fall of Fort Fisher, the regiment went to Kinston, where it 
engaged in three days’ fighting, March 7, 8, and 9, 1865. The 
advance of the enemy from Wilmington and the near approach 
of Sherman’s army from Fayetteville caused it to proceed to 
Bentonville, where the Confederate forces met and checked 
Sherman. The regiment surrendered with Johnston’s army at 
Bush Hill, and was paroled May 2, 1865. Adjutant Latta was 
with the regiment from the beginning to the end, without once 
returning home, having participated in the campaigns men- 
tioned above. 

Lewis Leon, a well known resident of Wilmington and a 
veteran of the Confederate States service, was born in Mecklen- 
burg, Germany, November 27, 1841. Three years later he was 
brought by his parents to New York City, whence he moved to 
Charlotte in 1858, and engaged in mercantile pursuits as a 
clerk. Becoming a member of the Charlotte Grays, he entered 
the active service of that command, going to the camp of in- 
struction at Raleigh on April 21, 1861. The Grays were as- 
signed to Col. D. H. Hill’s regiment, the First, as Company 
C, and took part in the Battle of Big Bethel, in which Private 
Leon was a participant. At the expiration of the six months’ 
enlistment of the Bethel Regiment, he reenlisted in Company 
B, Capt. Harvey White, of the Fifty-first Regiment, commanded 
by Col. William Owen. He shared the service of this regiment 
in its subsequent honorable career, fighting at Gettysburg, Bris- 

The War Between the States 


tow Station, Mine Run, and the Wilderness, receiving a slight 
wound at Gettysburg, but not allowing it to interfere with his 
duty. During the larger part of his service he was a sharp- 

On the 5th or 6th of May, 1864, the sharpshooters of his 
regiment were much annoyed by one of the Federal sharp- 
shooters who had a long-range rifle and who had climbed up a 
tall tree, from which he could pick off the men, though sheltered 
by stumps and stones, himself out of range of their guns. Pri- 
vate Leon concluded that “this thing had to be stopped/ 7 and 
taking advantage of every knoll, hollow, and stump, he crawled 
near enough for his rifle to reach, and took a “pop 77 at this dis- 
turber of the peace, who came tumbling down. Upon running 
up to his victim, Leon discovered him to be a Canadian Indian, 
and clutching his scalp lock, he dragged him back to the Con- 
federate line. 

At the Battle of the Wilderness he was captured, and from 
that time until June, 1865, he was a prisoner of war at Point 
Lookout and Elmira, N. Y. Upon being paroled he visited his 
parents in New York City, and then worked his way back to 
North Carolina. He is warmly regarded by his comrades of 
Cape Fear Camp, U. C. V., and has served several terms as its 
adjutant. When Col. James T. Morehead prepared a sketch 
of his regiment, the Fifty-third, Private Leon furnished him 
with a copy of a diary which he had kept from the organization 
of the regiment up to the 5th of May, 1864, when he was 

Richard F. Langdon was one of the second lieutenants of 
Company E (New Hanover County), First Regiment North 
Carolina Troops, and was subsequently appointed captain and 
quartermaster of the Third North Carolina Infantry. 

Capt. Thomas C. Lewis became a member of the Wilmington 
Rifle Guards and went on duty with that organization early in 
the conflict. When it became Company I of the Eighth Regi- 
ment he was appointed a sergeant, and after the reenlistment 
in 1862 he served as quartermaster sergeant until the Battle of 
Second Manassas, when he became second lieutenant of his 
company. At this battle he received a severe wound in the hip 
which disabled him for half a year. Upon rejoining his com- 
mand he was promoted to be captain. He served with his 
company until he was captured in the disaster to Johnston 7 s 
division at Spottsylvania Courthouse. He was confined at Fort 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Delaware and shared the hitter experience of the 600 officers 
held under fire at Morris Island. He was not released until 
June, 1865. It is much to the credit of Captain Lewis’ mem- 
ory, that, although efforts were made by his Northern kinsmen 
to induce him to take the oath of allegiance while he was a 
prisoner at Fort Delaware, he manfully refused and remained 
a prisoner of war until the final surrender. 

Capt. J. W. Lippitt was captain of Company G, Fifty-first 
Regiment, North Carolina Troops, and commanded the regi- 
ment at the surrender at Bush Hill. 

Maj. Charles W. McClammy joined a cavalry company com- 
manded by Captain Newkirk at the beginning of hostilities in 
1861, and was elected lieutenant of this organization. This 
company did good service in eastern North Carolina, among its 
achievements being the capture of a gunboat of the enemy which 
had grounded in New River in Onslow County. Upon the 
resignation of Captain Newkirk, Lieutenant McClammy was 
promoted to the captaincy. His subsequent gallant career is 
well described in the following extract from an address deliv- 
ered by Colonel Moore: “From the time he gave his services 

to his State and country, he was all enthusiasm and dash, and 
never lost an opportunity to do his best. In nearly every fight 
in which our regiment was engaged he was present in glorious 
service. His services were so meritorious that Colonel Baker, 
before his capture, spoke of wanting to promote him. When he 
was promoted, he was the ninth captain in rank and one of the 
youngest, if not the very youngest. He was complimented in 
general orders for gallant services in battles on the White Oak 
and Charles City Road.” 

During the Holden-Kirk War, in 1870, favored by the local 
factions and divisions of the dominant Republicans, Major 
McClammy and Capt. Samuel A. Ashe were elected to the 
Assembly, and became leaders in the important work of that 
body, remedying many of the excesses of the Reconstruction 
period, impeaching and deposing the Governor, pacifying the 
State, and measurably unifying the discordant elements of the 
white people of the State. Many years then elapsed before New 
Hanover had another Democratic representative in the Assem- 
bly. Later, Major McClammy represented the Cape Fear dis- 
trict in the Congress of the United States. 

William Dougald McMillan enlisted in the spring of 1861, 
at the age of sixteen years, in the Topsail Rifles, with which he 

The War Between the States 


served one year on the coast. In the spring of 1862 he became 
a member of Rankin’s heavy artillery ; but, after a few months’ 
service, he provided a substitute for that command and volun- 
teered as a private in the Fifty-first Regiment of Infantry, in 
which he served in 1863 as sergeant major, and during 1864-65, 
while able for duty, as acting adjutant. His regiment was at- 
tached to Clingman’s brigade and did gallant service in North 
Carolina and Virginia. He shared its fortunes in battle at 
Plymouth, Bermuda Hundred, Drewry’s Bluff, Cold Harbor, 
Port Walthall Junction, in the trenches at Petersburg and the 
fighting on the Weldon Railroad, and at Fort Harrison and 
the Crater. He was slightly wounded at Hrewry’s Bluff, Sec- 
ond Cold Harbor, Bermuda Hundred, and Petersburg, and 
seriously at Fort Harrison. He was last in battle in the de- 
fense of Fort Fisher. He surrendered at High Point in the 
spring of 1865. 

Alexander MacRae: Shortly after the outbreak of the war 

in 1861, the Legislature of North Carolina, cooperating with 
the Confederate Government in defending the entrance to the 
Cape Fear River, passed an act authorizing the formation of a 
battalion of heavy artillery, to he composed of three companies. 
One of the companies was raised by Capt. Alexander MacRae, 
of Wilmington. Captain MacRae had been president of the 
Wilmington and Weldon Railroad Company, and was then well 
advanced in age. Captain MacRae’s company was on duty at 
Fort Anderson and at Fort Fisher. In 1863, four companies 
were organized into a battalion, with Alexander MacRae as 
major, the companies being known as Companies A, B, C, and 
H, of the First Battalion of Heavy Artillery. This, with the 
Thirty-sixth and Fortieth Regiments, and attached companies, 
formed Hebert’s brigade. After participating in the defense 
of the Lower Cape Fear, this brigade returned to Goldsboro 
and fought at Bentonville. Major MacRae was paroled in May, 

Henry MacRae: The Eighth Regiment, North Carolina 

State Troops, was organized at Camp Macon, near Warrenton, 
N. C., in August and September, 1861, and Henry MacRae 
was commissioned captain of Company C. Captain MacRae 
died while in service. 

Capt. Walter G. MacRae, a gallant North Carolina soldier, 
was born in Wilmington, January 27, 1841. He was educated 
in New England, entering a private school in Boston in 1856, 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

and was graduated from the English High School in that city 
in 1860, receiving the Franklin medal. He then studied law at 
the Harvard Law School until the outbreak of hostilities in 
1861, when he returned home to fight for his State. Joining 
the Eighth North Carolina, he accompanied it to South Caro- 
lina, and a few months later was transferred to the heavy artil- 
lery and stationed at Fort Fisher. Subsequently he became a 
member of McNeill’s Partisan Rangers and, after an adventur- 
ous career of thirteen months with that command, joined Com- 
pany C of the Seventh North Carolina Infantry, with a commis- 
sion as lieutenant. From that time he was in command of his 
company, with promotion to captain after the Battle of Gettys- 
burg. Among the engagements in which he participated were 
the encounters at Thompson’s Bridge, on the Neuse River, the 
skirmish near Pollocksville, and the Battle of Chancellorsville, 
where he was slightly wounded in the right thigh. Afterwards, 
he was in command of three companies of skirmishers during 
the fighting on the Rappahannock River. At Gettysburg he was 
in battle three days, and on the evening of the third day received 
a severe wound in the left thigh. While being carried to Rich- 
mond he was sick three weeks with fever at Newton, Va., and 
on reaching the Confederate Capital he was granted a furlough 
for forty days. In May, 1864, he participated in the death 
grapple of the armies in the Wilderness and had the misfortune 
to be captured. He was held at Fort Delaware, and in the 
following August was one of the 600 officers placed under fire 
at Morris Island, thence being returned to Fort Delaware and 
held until the close of hostilities. 

Gen. William MacRae was a man of commanding gifts, but 
very strong prejudices. The severity of his discipline in his 
regiment was universally known. He was elected lieutenant 
colonel of the Fifteenth Regiment, and afterwards, on June 22, 
1864, was appointed brigadier general and assigned to the com- 
mand of Kirkland’s brigade. An officer of the regiment speak- 
ing of General MacRae, said : a General MacRae soon won the 
confidence and admiration of the brigade, both officers and men. 
His voice was like that of a woman ; he was small in person and 
quick in action. History has never done him justice. He could 
place his command in position quicker and infuse more of his 
fighting qualities into his men than any other officer I ever 
saw. His presence with his troops seemed to dispel all fear 
and to inspire every one with a desire for the fray. The brigade 

The War Between the States 


remained under his command until the surrender. General 
MacRae, on being assigned to the brigade, changed the physical 
expression of the whole command in less than two weeks, and 
gave the men infinite faith in him and in themselves which was 
never lost, not even when they grounded arms at Appomattox.” 

General MacRae distinguished himself in the Battle of Reams 
Station, August 25, when with a small force he captured sev- 
eral flags and cannon, killed a large number of the enemy, and 
took 2,100 prisoners. He was one of the best of Lee’s brigadiers 
and won a most enviable reputation. 

Capt. Robert B. MacRae was captain of Company C (Hew 
Hanover County), Seventh Regiment, and was wounded in the 
Battle of Hanover Courthouse, May 27, 1862. Colonel Hay- 
wood was wounded in the Battle of Second Manassas, and Cap- 
tain MacRae took command of the regiment, and right gallantly 
did he discharge the duties imposed upon him. In this battle 
he was severely wounded. Later, he was promoted to be major 
of the regiment. 

MacRae’s battalion, commanded by Maj. James C. MacRae, 
was better known as the Eighteenth Battalion. It was organized 
in the summer and fall of 1863 for the protection of the counties 
of western Horth Carolina against the bushwhackers and parti- 
san leaders. Ho general engagement between the whole force 
and the enemy ever occurred, but there were frequent encounters 
between the detached companies and parties of bushwhackers 
who infested the mountains. There were many stirring adven- 
tures and brave and venturesome acts by these men, whose his- 
tory ought to have been better preserved. 

Capt. Robert M. Mclntire, of Rocky Point, raised a cavalry 
company in the spring of 1862, afterwards known as Company 
C, Fourth Regiment of Cavalry. He furnished sabres, saddles, 
and twelve horses, and he was elected first lieutenant, while his 
uncle, Dr. Andrew Mclntire, became captain. In September, 
1863, Lieutenant Mclntire was promoted to be captain of his 

The service of Company C was first near Suffolk, Va., and 
then in eastern Horth Carolina. It was a part of the force that 
in December, 1862, repelled Foster’s army, which threatened to 
capture Goldsboro, and pursued it until the Federal column 
found shelter in Hew Bern. Some months later the regiment 
was ordered to Virginia and, along with the Fifth Horth Caro- 
lina Cavalry, formed Robertson’s cavalry brigade, which was a 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

part of the great cavalry division under the command of that 
brilliant and dashing leader, Gen. J. E. B. Stuart. 

Company C shared all the vicissitudes and endured all the 
hardships of the Gettysburg campaign. Its history is a part of 
the history of the regiment. At Middleburg it struck the First 
Rhode Island Regiment, and “then commenced a series of 
cavalry battles continuing through several days, in which the 
regiment was an active participant, suffering great loss in killed, 
wounded, and captured.’’ Then, on the 21st of June, near 
Upperville, “the fighting became desperate, often hand to hand, 
with severe loss. * * * All the companies were engaged 

in this fight and sustained losses.” 

The Fourth Regiment passed through Hagerstown, and on 
July 1, reached Chambersburg, Pennsylvania, and then moved 
towards Carlisle, but soon hurried to Gettysburg, arriving on 
the morning of the 3d, when, at once becoming engaged, it 
charged and routed the Federal Cavalry. But this hard contest 
was the end of Captain Mclntire’s fine, active career. Like 
many others, he fell into the enemy’s hands at South Mountain, 
Pennsylvania, and, along with Colonel Kenan and hundreds of 
other brave soldiers of the Cape Fear, he suffered all the terrible 
hardships of a long captivity on Johnson’s Island. It was not 
until the war had virtually closed, March 15, 1865, that he was 

John C. Mcllhenny was a first lieutenant in Company E, 
Light Artillery, Tenth Regiment, Horth Carolina Troops; a 
fine officer. 

Thomas Hall McKoy, of Wilmington, entered the army early 
in the war and saw active service throughout the campaigns of 
the Branch-Lane brigade, of which he was one of the two com- 
missaries, with rank of major. 

His devotion to the cause, and his eminence as a merchant of 
Wilmington are worthy of honorable mention. He engaged in 
the mercantile business at the close of hostilities and died some 
years ago, respected and honored by his friends and associates. 

Hr. James F. McRee, jr., was a surgeon in the Third Horth 
Carolina Infantry, and was faithful and well beloved. He was 
commissioned May 16, 1861, from Hew Hanover County. 

Sergt. Maj. Robert McRee, son of Dr. James F. McRee, jr., 
was killed at Spottsylvania Courthouse; a gallant soldier. 

Henry C. McQueen was horn in Lumberton, Horth Carolina, 
July 16, 1846. His ancestors were of the Highland Scotch who 

The War Between the States 


adhered with romantic loyalty to the cause of the Pretender, and 
after his final defeat at Culloden, emigrated to America, where 
their descendants have been distinguished and widely known. 
Enlisting when a mere lad as a private in the First North Caro- 
lina Battery, Henry McQueen, by the faithful discharge of 
every duty devolving upon him, won the esteem and admiration 
of all his comrades. On the 15th of January, 1865, when Fort 
Fisher fell, he was wounded and captured, remaining in prison 
until the close of the war. 

His business career, which has been one of uninterrupted 
honor and success, began in Wilmington, in January, 1866. In 
1869 he entered the employ of Williams & Murchison, in New 
York, and twelve years later became a partner in this firm. In 
1899 he became president of the Murchison National Bank, 
of Wilmington, and its success, which has been unexcelled in 
the financial history of the State, has been due in large measure 
to his exceptional ability and superior management. From its 
organization in 1900 until he resigned in 1915, he was presi- 
dent of the People’s Savings Bank, and he is still chairman of 
its Board of Directors. Under his wise control, this bank has 
reached a degree of prosperity which makes it a marvel to the 
public. The same success has marked his presidency of the 
Bank of Duplin, at Wallace, North Carolina, which he helped 
to organize. He served two terms as president of the Chamber 
of Commerce, was for many years commissioner of the Sinking 
Fund of Wilmington and chairman of its Board of Audit and 
Finance. At present he is president of the Carolina Insurance 
Company and vice president of the Jefferson Standard Life In- 
surance Company, which is the largest insurance company in 
the South and which has kept millions of dollars in this section. 

A man of dignity, gentleness, courtesy, modesty, and unself- 
ishness, Mr. McQueen has the most attractive personality, while 
his unswerving integrity, moral firmness, and frank sincerity 
have won for him universal confidence and respect. He is a 
member of the First Presbyterian Church of Wilmington and 
one of its ruling elders. 

In 1871, he married Miss Mary Agnes Hall, a daughter of 
Avon E. Hall, of Fayetteville, and until her death in January, 
1904, their life together was completely happy, with no dis- 
cordant note. 

Capt. Eugene S. Martin was fourth sergeant of the Wilming- 
ton Eifle Guards, a company formed before the war and which 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

entered service on April 15, 1861, on the occupation of Fort 
Caswell. Captain Martin was assigned to duty as sergeant 
major, and afterwards as adjutant of the post, and served as 
such until June 20, 1861, when he resigned the office and re- 
turned to his company. In the meantime, the Eighth Regi- 
ment was formed, and the Wilmington Rifle Guards became 
Company I of that regiment, Captain Martin being second 
sergeant, in which capacity he served until he was mustered 
out, April 15, 1862. He was commissioned in May, 1862, first 
lieutenant of artillery, and assigned to Company A, First North 
Carolina Battalion of Heavy Artillery. 

In the spring of 1864 he was detached from the company 
and ordered to Fort Caswell as ordnance officer, where he served 
until the fort was evacuated and blown up in January, 1865, 
upon the fall of Fort Fisher. He served at Fort Anderson 
during the bombardment in February, 1865, as ordnance officer, 
and at the Battles of Town Creek, Kinston, and Bentonville, as 
ordnance officer of Hagood’s brigade; and afterwards was or- 
dered to the brigade of Junior Reserves, as ordnance officer, to 
assist in organizing that brigade. He never received his com- 
mission of captain, hut ranked as captain during the time he 
was at Fort Caswell and until the end of the war. He sur- 
rendered in Wilmington in May, 1865, to General Hawley, 
commanding that post, and afterwards took the oath of alle- 

Clarence D. Martin, a younger brother, left the University 
in 1861 and enlisted in Company C, Thirteenth North Carolina 
Regiment, serving as sergeant of his company. He was 
wounded at the Battle of Williamsburg in May, 1862, and 
carried to a hospital in Richmond. Later, he was removed to 
Kenansville, where his father was residing temporarily, and died 
there on his eighteenth birthday, June 27, 1862. His com- 
rades and officers praised him as a fine soldier, and his memory 
is cherished by all who knew him. 

John E. Matthews: When Fort Sumter was bombarded by 
Beauregard, Hr. Matthews was a member of the Elm City 
cadets, of New Bern, which were ordered at once to take posses- 
sion of Fort Macon. He remained there for two months under 
Col. C. C. Tew, who was in command, and returned with the 
company to New Bern, where he remained until ordered to 
Garysburg, when the company became a part of the Second Regi- 

The War Between the States 


ment, North Carolina Troops, under Colonel Tew. Dr. Mat- 
thews served continuously and actively with this regiment 
throughout the war. 

After the Battle of Fredericksburg, in December, 1862, the 
first corps of sharpshooters for Ramseur’s brigade was organ- 
ized, which was the beginning of this branch of the service, and 
Dr. Matthews was made second sergeant of the corps, partici- 
pating at Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, and Kelly’s Ford, where, 
while on picket duty, he was captured. He was confined at 
Point Lookout, but was exchanged in February, 1865, returned 
to duty at Petersburg, and took part in the subsequent battles 
around Petersburg and on the retreat at Sailor’s Creek, where 
he was again captured and again confined at Point Lookout until 
July 1, 1865, months after the surrender. 

Thomas D. Meares has the honor of being one of the boy 
soldiers of North Carolina during the closing scenes of the 
great struggle. In December, 1864, being about sixteen years 
of age, he enlisted as a private in the Junior Reserves, but 
within a few weeks his soldierly qualities led to his selection as 
a courier on the staff of Gen. Wade Hampton, between Hillsboro 
and Durham, and he began a service as courier for that gallant 
cavalry commander which continued until the end of the war. 

Col. Oliver Pendleton Meares was captain of the Wilmington 
Rifle Guards, which was one of the companies that occupied 
Fort Caswell on April 16, 1861. This company was composed 
of all the best young men of Wilmington who were not mem- 
bers of the older company, the Wilmington Light Infantry. 
At one time it had on its rolls more than a hundred men, rang- 
ing from sixteen to twenty-two years of age, and only one mar- 
ried man among them. 

On the formation of the Eighth Regiment of Volunteers, the 
Rifle Guards became Company I of that Regiment. The organ- 
ization was effected at Camp Wyatt on July 1, 1861, and Col- 
onel Radcliffe was elected colonel and Oliver P. Meares, lieu- 
tenant colonel. The Rifle Guards, like the Wilmington Light 
Infantry, furnished a large number of officers to other organiza- 
tions of the State. 

On the expiration of the twelve months for which the volun- 
teer companies had originally enlisted, the regiment was reor- 
ganized, and Colonel Meares retired as lieutenant colonel. On 
the formation of the ten regiments of State Troops, enlisted for 

344 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

three years, or the war, they were called the First Kegiment, 
North Carolina State Troops, and so on; and the Eighth Regi- 
ment Volunteers became the Eighteenth, and so on. 

In August, 1862, Colonel Meares became commissary of the 
Sixty-first Regiment. After the war he became a judge. Wil- 
mington never had a truer son than Colonel Meares, and his 
memory is justly revered. 

Capt. E. G. Meares, of Company D, Third North Carolina 
State Troops, was killed in the Battle of Sharpsburg. He was 
“a good soldier, a brave man, discharging his duty under all 
conditions.” He was a young man of fine character and was 
greatly lamented. 

Capt. James I. Metts was born at Kinston, N. C., March 16, 
1842, but has lived in Wilmington since he was six years old. 
Early in 1861 he left the State University to enlist in the Rifle 
Guards, organized in anticipation of war, and on April 15 was 
with his company in the seizure of Fort Caswell. Soon after- 
wards his company was assigned to the Eighth Regiment, and 
he was made corporal and was one of the color guard of the regi- 
ment when it was ordered to Coosawhatchie, S. C. After this 
he was given charge of the regimental colors, which he carried 
until the twelve months’ term of service expired. Reenlisting, 
he became fifth sergeant of Company G, Third Regiment, Col. 
Gaston Meares. His bravery and ability won for him distinc- 
tion in the Seven Days’ Battle, and were specially manifested 
at Cold Harbor, where he re-formed part of the regiment, and 
when in command of a detail in Chickahominy Swamp. After 
Malvern Hill, where he was among those receiving the last 
orders of Col. Gaston Meares, he was promoted to orderly ser- 
geant, and was assigned to the main work of drilling the recruits 
for his company. During the Maryland campaign he was dis- 
abled by illness, but rejoined his company at Bunker Hill, and 
in the promotions following the death at Sharpsburg of Cap- 
tain Rhodes and First Lieutenant Quince, Sergeant Metts be- 
came senior second lieutenant. At Winchester he was detailed 
as commissary of the regiment, and after Front Royal he dis- 
charged the duties of adjutant. His coolness at Fredericksburg 
attracted the attention of superior officers. Afterwards he was 
in the hospital at Richmond ill of pneumonia, but joined his 
regiment in the fighting around Winchester, where his brigade, 
Stuart’s, did much at Jordan Springs towards the victory over 

The War Between the States 


In the Confederate assault at Culp’s Hill, on the evening of 
the second day at Gettysburg, he led his men within seventy- 
five yards of the Federal breastworks, and here, while hotly 
engaged, a boy soldier approached him and said, “Lieutenant, 
my father is killed.” He could only answer, “Well, we can not 
help it,” and the brave boy, replying, “Ho, we can not help it,” 
turned and resumed firing as rapidly as he could at the enemy, 
which he continued to do until exhausted, and the next day his 
face was black with powder. In this engagement, while stand- 
ing with Lieut. Col. William M. Parsley, Adjutant James, and 
Capt. Edward H. Armstrong, three as brave men as ever stepped 
to the tap of a drum, Lieutenant Metts was wounded in the left 
lung, and experienced excruciating pain as he was hauled two 
miles over a rough road in an ambulance. But for a Sister of 
Charity, he would have died in the field hospital. Many people 
from Baltimore and elsewhere visited the wounded Confederates 
at Gettysburg, bringing clothing and delicacies of food. An 
elderly lady, accompanied by two charming young lady friends, 
finding Lieutenant Metts without a sheet, removed her petticoat, 
tore it in two, and pinning it together, said, “Don’t mind me, 
boys, I’m a mother, and he shall have a good sheet tomorrow.” 
The same kindness followed him in the general camp hospital 
and in the West Building Hospital in Baltimore, where he 
found his kinsmen, Col. Thomas S. Kenan and James G. Kenan, 
also wounded on Culp’s Hill. He was transferred to Johnson’s 
Island, Lake Erie, where for thirteen months Colonel Kenan 
was his bunkmate. Their sufferings here during the winter 
were very severe, with cruel guards, insufficient food, scanty 
clothing, in houses neither ceiled nor plastered, and with but 
one stove for about sixty prisoners. During the night of Janu- 
ary 1, 1864, when the mercury registered twenty degrees below 
zero and even the guard was forced to take shelter, Maj. John 
Winsted and three or four others escaped and made their way 
across the ice to the mainland, but the excessive cold prevented 
all but Major Winsted from going farther. He reached Can- 
ada, and returned to the Confederacy on a blockade runner. 
In August, 1864, Lieutenant Metts was selected as one of the 
most enfeebled and delicate of the prisoners, for exchange, and 
he soon reached Richmond, rejoicing in a new lease of life, for 
he had been assured that he could not survive another winter on 
Johnson’s Island. He found that Captain Armstrong, an ami- 
able gentleman, a fine scholar, and one of the bravest of men, 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

had been killed at Spottsylvania, and he had been promoted to 
the captaincy of his company, which he took command of, to- 
gether with Company E, and served in Cox’s brigade, Grimes’s 
division, notwithstanding his delicate health, until detailed to 
serve on the staff of Major General Grimes as special instructor 
of division. The night before arms were stacked at Appomattox 
he accompanied a band from division headquarters to serenade 
General Lee, who was too much affected to say much, but gave 
each of the boys a warm pressure of the hand and an affectionate 
good-bye. Joining his family, who had lost all of their prop- 
erty, Captain Metts went to Wilmington to begin the struggle of 
civil life. His first engagement was with two Federal sutlers, 
who treated him kindly. Since then his exertions have been 
rewarded with the success that is the just desert of a brave 

Dr. James A. Miller, surgeon of the Eighth (Eighteenth) 
Regiment, became surgeon of the brigade and then division sur- 
geon, and finally district surgeon of the district of the Cape 

Capt. John Miller, a son of Mr. Tom Miller, commanded 
A. D. Moore’s battery after Moore’s promotion to the colonelcy 
of the Sixty-sixth Regiment. He moved to California.. 

Capt. Julius Walker Moore was instrumental in raising a 
company of cavalry early in the war. Later, he became captain 
of a cavalry company raised chiefly in Onslow County, called 
the “Humphrey Troop,” and borne on the roll as Company H, 
Forty-first Regiment. Captain Moore, along with a consider- 
able number of his company, fell into the hands of the enemy, 
and was confined in Fort Delaware and on James Island until 
the end of the war, when he returned home broken in health 
and fortune, and he soon died at Charlotte. 

James Osborne Moore became a purser in the Confederate 
Havy. After the war he became a civil engineer. He died at 
Charlotte. A still younger brother, Alexander Duncan Moore, 
enlisted in Company I, Eighth Regiment of Volunteers, and 
was sergeant major of the regiment when he fell on one of the 
battlefields in Virginia. He was a bright young man, with the 
finest characteristics, and was imbued with the noble spirit of 
his Revolutionary forefathers. 

Charles D. Myers was one of the members of the Wilmington 
Light Infantry of ante-bellum times, and served in that com- 
pany until he was made adjutant of the Eighth Regiment, 

The War Between the States 


North Carolina Troops. He subsequently served upon the 
staff of Gen. Samuel G. French, who commanded the Confeder- 
ate forces in the vicinity of Wilmington, with the rank of 

Kenneth McKenzie Murchison 1 was born near Fayetteville, 
February 18, 1831, the son of Duncan Murchison, who was born 
in Manchester, Cumberland County, May 20, 1801, and the 
grandson of Kenneth McKenzie Murchison, for whom he was 
named, and who came to this country from Scotland in 1773. 
Duncan Murchison became prominent in the planting and man- 
ufacture of cotton. 

Colonel Murchison, the second son of Duncan, was graduated 
at Chapel Hill in 1853, after which he was engaged in business 
pursuits in New York City and Wilmington until the spring of 
1861, when he disposed of his business in the North, assisted 
in the organization of a company at Fayetteville, and entered 
the service as second lieutenant. Fie commanded Company C, 
of the Eighth Regiment, which was captured at Roanoke Island, 
a disaster which Lieutenant Murchison escaped by his fortunate 
absence on military detail. He then organized another com- 
pany in Cumberland County, which was assigned to the Fifty- 
fourth Regiment, with himself as captain. Upon the organiza- 
tion of the regiment he was elected major, was soon promoted 
to lieutenant colonel, and after the death of Col. J. C. S. 
McDowell, at Fredericksburg, became the colonel of the regi- 
ment. He was especially commended by Gen. E. M. Law, com- 
mander of his brigade, for gallant service at Fredericksburg. 
He commanded his regiment at Chancellorsville, and in the 
Battle of Winchester against Milroy. Subsequently he was 
ordered to convey the prisoners taken on that occasion to Rich- 
mond, after which he returned to Winchester and served in 
guarding the wagon trains of Lee’s army. On July 6, in com- 
mand of his regiment, he gallantly repulsed the enemy’s ad- 
vance on Williamsport. He served in Hoke’s brigade during 
the subsequent operations in Virginia, and when the brigade 
was cut off by the enemy at Rappahannock Station, November 7, 
1863, he was among those captured. He was held a prisoner of 
war on Johnson’s Island, Lake Erie, from that time until July, 
1865, an imprisonment of twenty months. Upon his release he 
resumed business in New York, and formed a brief partnership 
under the firm name of Murray & Murchison, but dissolved it 

iSketch bv Col. Alfred M. Waddell, in the Biographical History of 
North Carolina. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

in June, 1866, and established the firm of Murchison & Com- 
pany, the members of the firm being himself, his brother, 
David R. Murchison, George W. Williams, of Wilmington, 
and John D. Williams, of Fayetteville. This firm did a very 
large and profitable business for some years, the New York 
house being managed by Colonel Murchison, under the name 
of Murchison & Company. The Wilmington house was known 
as Williams & Murchison, and the Fayetteville connection was 
known as John D. Williams & Company. 

Colonel Murchison lived in New York after the war, but 
generally spent the winter in North Carolina. In the year 1880 
he bought the old historic plantation called “Orton,” the family 
seat of “King” Roger Moore, situated about sixteen miles be- 
low Wilmington, on the west side of the Cape Fear, and. the 
southernmost of all the old rice plantations on that river, and 
he expended a large amount of money in restoring it to its 
former condition and improving it in various ways to satisfy 
his taste. Within its boundary was the colonial parish church 
and churchyard of St. Philip’s, and this interesting ruin with 
its consecrated grounds was conveyed in fee simple by Colonel 
Murchison and his brother, David R. Murchison, to the diocese 
of North Carolina. It is now carefully preserved by the North 
Carolina Society of Colonial Dames of America. Orton has 
always been a paradise of sportsmen, and the colonel was very 
fond of hunting. It was his custom to bring some of his friends 
down from the North every winter, and give them the oppor- 
tunity to enjoy the old-time hospitality, which he dispensed 
with' a lavish hand. It was here that those who loved him best 
and who were loved by him spent their happiest days. The rest- 
ful seclusion of this grandest of all colonial homes, with its broad 
acres and primeval forests, was most grateful to him and to his 
intimate associates after the storm and stress of war and the 
subsequent struggles of business life. It was here that the 
austerity of worldly contact was relaxed and the manifold hu- 
manities of a gentle, kindly life unfolded. He never spoke of 
his own exploits, nor did he willingly recall the horrors of the 
four years’ war. He loved to roam the woods with his faithful 
dogs, to linger for hours in the secluded sanctuary of the game 
he sought so eagerly, and the sight of his triumphant return 
from an exciting chase, with Reynard at the saddlebow, sur- 
rounded by his yelping pack of English hounds, would rouse the 
dullest of his guests to exclamations of delight. 

The War Between the States 


Colonel Murchison was also the joint owner with his brother 
David of the celebrated Caney River hunting preserve, in the 
wildest part of the mountains of North Carolina, where they 
spent the summers of several happy years along the fourteen 
miles of trout streams of icy waters. Within this splendid do- 
main is some of the most picturesque of American mountain 
scenery, including Mount Mitchell and the neighboring peaks. 
It is the scene of big Tom Wilson’s hunting and trapping ex- 
ploits, and Wilson still survives as the custodian of the magnifi- 
cent forest and stream, to tell the curious stranger in his own 
peculiar way how he found the body of the great naturalist 
whose name Mount Mitchell bears. 

Colonel Murchison’s striking personality was likened by those 
who knew him to that of the great German chancellor, Prince 
Bismarck, in his younger years. The commanding figure and 
uncompromising expression, which characterized his outward 
life, suggested a military training beyond that of his war 
experience, and this was in strange contrast to his inner life, a 
knowledge of which disclosed a sympathetic tenderness for all 
suffering or afflicted humanity. He preferred and practiced the 
simple life ; his wants were few and easily supplied. A notable 
characteristic was his exceeding devotion to his five surviving 
children; he was proud of them and of their loyal love to him, 
and he made them his constant companions. He gave to worthy 
charities with a liberal and unostentatious hand. His patriotic 
spirit responded quickly to every public emergency, and his local 
pride was manifested in the building and equipment, at a great 
expense, of “The Orton,” when a good hotel was needed in 
Wilmington, and when no one else would venture the invest- 

During the last fifteen years of his honored life, Colonel 
Murchison gradually withdrew from the activities of strenuous 
business cares, and with the first frosts of autumn resumed 
control at Orton Plantation. He left it in June of 1904 in the 
vigor and spirits of abounding health, to meet, a few days later, 
the sudden call of the Messenger of Death, whom he had never 
feared. So lived and died a man of whom it may be said, “We 
ne’er shall see his like again.” He was an example of splendid 
physical manhood, of broad experience, of unyielding integrity, 
pure in heart and in speech, with the native modesty of a woman 
and the courage of a lion. He was especially sympathetic and 
generous to his negro servitors, who regarded him with loving 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Another of the long line of proprietors of Orton, where the 
soft south breezes, which brought from their island home the 
first Barbadian settlers, bring to the listening ear the murmured 
miserere of the sea, has “crossed over the river to rest under the 
shade of the trees/’ 

David Reid Murchison 1 was horn at Holly Hill, Manchester, 
F. C., December 5, 1837. He spent his boyhood days at Holly 
Hill and received his early education in Cumberland County. 
Later, he was a student at the University of Virginia. In 1860 
he commenced his business career as a member of the firm 
of Eli Murray & Co., of Wilmington, which was interrupted 
in 1861 by the commencement of the War between the States. 
He enlisted at once in the Seventh Forth Carolina Regiment 
and remained with that command one year, when he was trans- 
ferred to the Fifty-fourth Forth Carolina Regiment and as- 
signed to duty with the rank of captain. With this regiment 
he saw active service, and his conduct always reflected honor and 
credit upon him as a brave and efficient officer. He was taken 
from the Fifty-fourth Forth Carolina Regiment and made 
inspector general of the Commissary Department of Forth 
Carolina, having been appointed to this position by President 
Davis on account of his executive ability, which was then, de- 
spite his early age, recognized as of a very high order. The 
change from active service to his new duties was very distasteful 
to him and against his wishes. Brave himself, and born of 
heroic blood, with a firmness and fortitude which faltered in no 
crisis, he had an apitude for war, and doubtless would have 
risen high in the profession of arms had he been allowed to see 
active service in the field to the close of the war, as was his wish 
and desire. One of his chief characteristics, however, was a 
high sense of duty, which always prompted him to do whatever 
work was before him as best he knew how. He filled the posi- 
tion to which he was assigned until the close of the war with 
great credit to himself and benefit to the soldiers of Forth Caro- 
lina. His papers for advancement to the grade of major were 
prepared, hut were not executed because of the close of hostili- 

He was a singularly brave man, devoid of fear. Cool and 
self-reliant under all circumstances, he gave confidence and 
strength to the weak and timid. He was generous, full of 
sympathy and of kindness to the poor and needy, to whom he 

iSketch by Major C. M. Stedman. 

The War Between the States 


gave with an open and liberal hand. He was a sincere man, 
abhoring deception and hypocrisy and looking with scorn upon 
all that was base and mean. He died in Hew York, where he 
had gone for medical treatment, February 22, 1882. He was 
in the full meridian of his intellectual powers and his nobility 
of mind and heart was never more clearly manifested than in 
his last days. He went to his rest, his fortitude unshaken by 
long-continued and severe suffering, his chief desire to give the 
least possible pain and trouble to others, solicitous not for him- 
self, but for the happiness of those he loved. His gentleness 
and self-abnegation were as beautiful as his iron nerve was firm 
and unyielding. Forth Carolina has furnished to the world 
a race of men who by their great qualities have shed lustre 
upon the State which gave them birth. In the elements of 
character which constitute true greatness — courage, honor, truth, 
fidelity, unselfish love of country and humanity — Capt. David 
Reid Murchison will rank with the best and noblest of her 

He was a man of extraordinary business sagacity, which was 
made manifest about the year 1880, when, after being appointed 
receiver of the Carolina Central Railway, he startled the com- 
munity by buying out the whole road, and he conducted it suc- 
cessfully until his health began to fail, when he sold it at a 

Col. John R. Murchison, the oldest of the sons of Duncan 
Murchison, had a career brilliant with heroic deeds and per- 
sonal sacrifice. Beloved at home by his fellow-countrymen and 
upon the field by his devoted followers, as colonel of the Ffighth 
Forth Carolina Regiment, Clingman’s brigade, Hoke’s division, 
he took part in the Battles of Hatteras Inlet and Feuse Bridge, 
and after camping for two months at Camp Ashe, Old Topsail 
Sound, he won distinction at Morris Island, and fought so 
bravely at Plymouth and Drewry’s Bluff, that he was recom- 
mended for honors, and was promoted to be brigadier general 
a few hours before his untimely death. In the Battle of Cold 
Harbor, while personally leading a second charge of his regi- 
ment, he was mortally wounded and fell within the enemy’s 
lines. This final sacrifice of his noble life was marked by an 
armistice between General Grant and General Lee, during 
which several officers and men of the Eighth Regiment, seek- 
ing the body of their beloved commander, were, through a mis- 
understanding by General Grant, made prisoners and sent to 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

the rear of the Federal Army, and the body of Colonel Murchi- 
son was never recovered. The official correspondence on that 
occasion is as follows : 

Cold Harbor, Va., June 7, 1864 — 10.30 a. m. 

-General R. E. Lee, 

Comdg. Army of Northern Virginia. 

I regret that your note of 7 p. m. yesterday should have been 
received at the nearest corps headquarters to where it was delivered 
after the hour that had been given for the removal of the dead and 
wounded had expired. 10.45 p. m. was the hour at which it was 
received at corps headquarters, and between 11 and 12 it reached my 
headquarters. As a consequence, it was not understood by the troops 
of this army that there was a cessation of hostilities for the purpose of 
collecting the dead and wounded, and none were collected. Two officers 
and six men of the Eighth and Twenty-fifth North Carolina Regiments, 
who were out in search of the bodies of officers of their respective regi- 
ments, were captured and brought into our lines, owing to this want of 
understanding. I regret this, but will state that as soon as I learned 
the fact I directed that they should not be held as prisoners, but must 
be returned to their comrades. These officers and men having been 
carelessly brought through our lines to the rear, I have not determined 
whether they will be sent back the way they came or whether they will 
be sent by some other route. 

Regretting that all my efforts for alleviating the sufferings of wounded 
men left upon the battlefield have been rendered nugatory, I remain, &c., 

U. S. Grant, 
Lieutenant General. 

Headquarters Army of Northern Virginia, 
Lieut. Gen. U. S. Grant, July 7, 1864 — 2 p. m. 

Commanding U. 8. Armies. 

General: — Your note of 10.30 a. m. today has just been received. I 
regret that my letter to you of 7 p. m. yesterday should have been too 
late in reaching you to effect the removal of the wounded. 

I am willing, if you desire it, to devote the hours between 6 and 8 this 
afternoon to accomplish that object upon the terms and conditions as 
set forth in my letter of 7 p. m. yesterday. If this will answer your pur- 
pose, and you will send parties from your lines at the hour designated 
with white flags, I will direct that they be recognized and be permitted 
to collect the dead and wounded. 

I will also notify the officers on my lines that they will be permitted 
to collect any of our men that may be on the field. I request you will 
notify me as soon as practicable if this arrangement is agreeable to 
you. Lieutenant McAllister, Corporal Martin, and two privates of the 
Eighth North Carolina Regiment, and Lieutenant Hartman, Corpl. T. 
Kinlaw, and Privates Bass and Grey were sent last night, between the 
hours of 8 and 10 p. m., for the purpose of recovering the body of 

The War Between the States 


Colonel Murchison, and as they have not returned I presume they are 
the men mentioned in your letter. I request that they be returned to 
our lines. Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

R. E. Lee, 

June 7, 1864. 

Referred to General G. G. Meade, commanding Army of the Potomac. 

I will notify General Lee that hostilities will cease from 6 to 8 for 
the purposes mentioned. You may send the officers and men referred 
to as you deem best. Please return this. U. S. Grant, 

Lieutenant General. 

Cold Harbor, Va., June 7, 1864 — 5.30 p. m. 

General R. E. Lee, 

Commanding Army of Northern Virginia. 

Your note of this date just received. It will be impossible for me to 
communicate the fact of the truce by the hour named by you (6 p. m.), 
but I will avail myself of your offer at the earliest possible moment, 
which I hope will not be much after that hour. The officers and men 
taken last evening are the same mentioned in your note, and will be 
returned. U. S. Grant, 

Lieutenant General. 

Commodore W. T. Muse was an officer in the North Carolina 
Navy. The State of North Carolina, immediately after the 
adoption of the ordinance of secession, began the defense of her 
inland sounds by the construction of forts at Hatteras and Ocra- 
coke Inlets and by the purchase of several small steamers, which 
were converted into gunboats. Those of her sons who were in 
the United States Navy tendered their resignations and placed 
their services at the disposal of their native State; prominent 
among them being William T. Muse, who was ordered by the 
Naval and Military Board, of which Warren Winslow was presi- 
dent, to Norfolk, to take charge of, and fit out, as gunboats at 
the navy yard at Portsmouth the steamers purchased by the 
State. Commander W. T. Muse sailed from Norfolk, August 2, 
1861, with the Ellis , arriving off Ocracoke Inlet the 4th. North 
Carolina’s naval force consisted of seven vessels, but she sold 
them to the Confederate Navy in the fall of 1861, and her naval 
officers were then transferred to the Confederacy. 

A. W. Newkirk was commissioned as captain of Company A 
(originally known as the “Rebel Rangers”), New Hanover 
County, Forty-first Regiment, the 19th of October, 1861. A 
brilliant exploit performed by the Rebel Rangers is reported by 
Gen. W. H. C. Whiting, commanding the district of Wilming- 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

ton. He says that in November, 1862, Captain Newkirk’s 
cavalry and Captain Adams with a section of a field battery 
captured a steam gunboat of the enemy on New River. Her 
crew escaped, but her armament, ammunition, and small arms 
were captured. 

Capt. William Harris Northrop, a prominent business man 
of Wilmington, who served in the Confederate cause in various 
capacities throughout the war, was born in that city in 1836, 
and there reared and educated. In 1855 he became a member 
of the Wilmington Light Infantry, with which he was on duty 
before the secession of the State at Fort Caswell, and later at 
Fort Fisher. In June, 1865, he was commissioned lieutenant 
and assigned to the Third North Carolina, then stationed at 
Aquia Creek, on the Potomac. He served in the line about 
eighteen months and was then commissioned captain quarter- 
master. After six months of this duty with his regiment, he 
was transferred to the Second Corps, Engineer Troops, and 
stationed at Wilmington and vicinity. After the evacuation of 
that city he was attached to the staff of General Bragg until the 
surrender. Among the engagements in which he participated 
were Aquia Creek on the Potomac, the Seven Days’ Battle be- 
fore Richmond, Frederick City, Boonshoro, Sharpshurg, and 
Bentonville. Both as a company officer and as a staff officer, 
his service was marked by bravery and entire devotion to the 
cause. After the close of hostilities Captain Northrop con- 
stantly resided at Wilmington. 

Capt. W. P. Oldham was captain of Company K, Forty- 
fourth Regiment, North Carolina Troops. At the Battle of 
Reams Station Captain Oldham sighted one of the guns repeat- 
edly, and when he saw the effect of his accurate aim upon the 
masses in front, he was so jubilant that General MacRae, with 
his usual quiet humor, remarked: “Oldham thinks he is at a 
ball in Petersburg.” 

Rev. George Patterson, D.D., of the Protestant Episcopal 
Church, was commissioned on the 30th day of December, 1862, 
chaplain of the Third Regiment. He was faithful to the last. 
He preached in Wilmington for years after the war, and after- 
wards in Memphis, Tenn., where he recently died. 

One of our venerable survivors of war times who retains the 
respect and admiration of all who know him, and they are 
legion, is Richard P. Paddison , 1 of Point Caswell, whose mili- 

iCaptain Paddison has since died. 

The War Between the States 


tary record is told in his own words. A chapter of his humor- 
ous experiences can appropriately he added, as the tragedies of 
these fearful years of bloodshed were not without a comic point 
of view. 

He tells us that in the month of March, 1861, “this part of 
North Carolina was wild with excitement and rumors of war, 
and a public meeting was called at Harrell’s Store, in Sampson 
County, for the purpose of organizing a military company to he 
tendered the Governor. In a short time an organization was 
effected, and a man named Taylor was elected captain. At the 
next meeting they voted to call the company the ‘Wild Cat 
Minute Men.’ Next the question came up as to where the com- 
pany should go. After considerable talk it was voted that the 
company should remain around Wild Cat as a home protection. 
There were a number of us, however, who did not take to the 
Wild Cat idea, and quietly withdrew and marched to Clinton, 
where a company was being organized by Capt. Frank Faison, 
called the ‘Sampson Hangers,’ composed of the flower of the 
young men of the county. I joined as a private in this com- 
pany. We had a good time drilling and eating the best the 
country could afford, and every fellow was a hero in the eyes of 
some pretty maiden. But this easement was suddenly cut short 
by orders to go with utmost dispatch to Fort Johnston. The 
whole town was in excitement. We were ordered to get in 
marching order, and to my dying day I shall remember that 
scene — mothers, wives, sisters, and sweethearts all cheering and 
encouraging their loved ones to go forth and do their duty ; such 
love of country could only he shown by true Southern woman- 
hood. After a good dinner and a sweet farewell under the in- 
spiring strains by the hand of ‘The Girl I Left Behind Me,’ we 
took up our march to Warsaw, where we boarded the train for 
Wilmington and arrived before night. We were met by the 
officials and marched up Front Street to Princess and Second; 
here we halted and the fun began. On the northeast corner 
stood a large brick house built for a negro jail and operated, I 
think, by a Mr. Southerland. We were informed that this was 
to be our quarters for the night. Now picture in your mind, 
if you can, a hundred and twenty wealthy young men, most of 
them Chapel Hill and high-school boys, whose combined wealth 
could purchase half the city of Wilmington, being forced to 
sleep in a negro jail. We marched into the house and deposited 
our luggage, which in after years would have been sufficient for 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Stonewall Jackson’s army. The rumbling noise of discord and 
discontent rose rapidly. We held a council of war and informed 
our officers that we would not submit to quarters in that house. 
We were to take the steamer next morning at nine o’clock for 
Tort Johnston. This was rather a critical situation for both 
officers and men. At this juncture. Judge A. A. McKoy, who 
was a private, said he would stand sponsor for the boys to he on 
hand next morning on time. This was accepted, and there was 
a hot time in the old town that night. Next morning, promptly 
on time, every man was present. We hoarded a river steamer, 
I think the Flora Macdonald , and arrived in good shape at our 
destination, where we had a good time until the organization of 
the Twentieth North Carolina Regiment, when our trouble be- 
gan. Our captain was elected lieutenant colonel, and an order 
was issued for the election of a captain. The candidates were 
James D. Holmes and William S. Devane. There was a strong 
feeling on both sides in the company. The Devane men, of 
whom I was one, said we would not serve under Holmes. I 
can not remember how long this trouble lasted, hut the matter 
was carried to Governor Ellis, who settled it by ordering each 
faction to send out recruiting officers and make two companies, 
which was done. I was sent out, and had ten recruits in three 
or four days. Both candidates were elected, Captain Holmes’s 
company going to the Thirtieth Regiment; and Captain De- 
vane’s company was detached for quite a long time doing service 
at Tort Caswell and Tort Johnston. In 1862 the Sixty-seventh 
Regiment was organized, and Captain Devane was made lieu- 
tenant colonel. About this time I was appointed hospital stew- 
ard by Hon. James A. Sedden, Secretary of War. I remained 
at Tort Johnston during the epidemic of yellow fever in 1862, 
and of smallpox in the winter of the same year; after this I 
was transferred to General Hospital No. 4, Wilmington, which 
comprised the Seamen’s Home building and buildings on the 
opposite side of Tront Street. Thomas M. Ritenour was sur- 
geon and A. E. Wright and Josh Walker, assistant surgeons. 
This was one of the largest and best equipped hospitals in the 

“After the fall of Eort Tisher we had orders to send our sick 
and wounded to Tayetteville and Goldsboro. By the aid of 
Captain Styron and his assistant, Mr. I. B. Grainger, who was 
the best organizer and disciplinarian I ever knew, we succeeded 
in getting all except thirty-two removed to safety. These were 

The War Between the States 


so badly wounded that it was impossible to move them. I placed 
these wounded in ward dSTo. 2 with Mrs. McCauslin, matron, in 
charge. Supplies were very scarce. Dr. Josh Walker was the 
last one to leave. He went out on Tuesday night, and Wednes- 
day morning the streets were swarming with Federal soldiers. 
About 10 a. m. a surgeon came to our hospital and inquired 
who was in charge. I replied that I was in charge. He said : 
‘I want you to move everything out. I want this hospital for 
our use. 7 I replied that I had nowhere to go, and no way to 
move. ‘You must find a house, 7 he replied, ‘and at once, and 
report to me at headquarters. I will furnish you with trans- 
portation. 7 I did not stand on the order of my going. I found 
a house on Fourth Street near Red Cross, owned by David Bunt- 
ing, whose family had left the city. I made the report, and the 
Federal surgeon general ordered three ambulances. The trans- 
fer was soon made. I wish to state that we had courteous treat- 
ment from the authorities, but of course we were very short of 
supplies. The first genuine treat we had was by Mr. F. W. 
Foster, who was acting as sanitary agent. He drove up one 
morning, came in and inquired about the sick, and asked if I 
would like to have some milk punch for the men. I said, ‘Yes, 7 
as it had been a long time since we had had any such luxury. 
He went out and soon returned with two large pails and a 
dipper, and personally served to each all they could stand. This 
he continued to do for several weeks. On one of his visits he 
asked me if I would like to have some canned goods for the 
hospital. I replied, ‘Yes, 7 and he said, ‘The steamer General 
Lyon is unloading a cargo of hospital supplies. If you will go 
down there you can get what you want. 7 I replied that I had 
no way to get them and no money to hire with. He said, ‘I will 
send you an ambulance; go down and get what you want. 7 I 
said, ‘Won’t you give me an order? 7 to which he replied, ‘Ho, 
if any one says anything to you tell them Foster sent you. 7 The 
ambulance came. I didn’t want any help. The vessel was 
unloading near where Springer’s coal yard is now. We backed 
up and I began to select what I wanted. I was not at all modest, 
and thinking that this would be the last haul I would get from 
Uncle Sam, I loaded to the limit. Strange to say, no questions 
were asked, and it is safe to say our boys fared well while 
things lasted. As the men improved they went home, and on 
the 5th of June I closed the doors. The last hero had gone to 
rebuild his broken fortunes and I felt a free man once more. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

I came out of the army as I had entered it — without one dollar, 
hut with a clear conscience, having performed my duty to my 
country as I saw it. From April 20, 1861, to June 5, 1865, 
I never had a furlough or a day’s absence from duty. 

“I can not close without saying a word about the splendid 
women of Wilmington for their devotion and attention to our 
destitute sick and wounded during those trying times. I have 
tried to recall the names of some of them, but can not do so. I 
fear few, if any, are living today.” 

Capt. Elisha Porter, of Company E, Third North Carolina 
Regiment, served from the beginning of the war up to and in- 
cluding the Battle of Chancellorsville. During that engagement 
he penetrated within the enemy’s breastworks and was bayo- 
neted by a Federal soldier. Finding that he was about to he 
killed, he attempted to scale the breastworks and succeeded in 
doing so, hut was shot in the thigh and apparently mortally 
wounded. After the battle he heard the voice of a friend, by 
whom he was taken to the Confederate field hospital. Dr. 
Porter survived for many years after the war, hut was always 

Joseph Price was one of the first lieutenants in Company H, 
Fortieth Regiment, which was organized at Bald Head, at the 
mouth of the Cape Fear River, the 1st of December, 1863, from 
heavy artillery companies already in the service. Company H 
was composed principally of Irishmen, and no better or more 
loyal men or better soldiers could he found in any company. 
Whether work or fighting was to be done, they were always 
ready and went wherever ordered. Lieutenant Price’s capture 
of the United States steamer Water Witch, by boarding in a 
night attack, was one of the most brilliant of the Confederate 
exploits on the water. His modest official report of this affair 
was characteristic of the man. 

Capt. Richard W. Price entered the Confederate service in 
October, 1864, at the age of seventeen, in the Junior Reserves, 
afterwards the Seventy-second Regiment. He served chiefly at 
Fort Fisher, and when the fort fell he was captured and taken 
a prisoner to Fort Delaware, where he remained until after the 
general surrender. When the Fort Fisher Survivors’ Associa- 
tion, composed of the Blue and the Cray, was organized, Captain 
Price was made secretary, and held that position to the time of 
his death. 

Capt. Robert G. Rankin was chairman of the Safety Com- 

The War Between the States 


mittee before tbe outbreak of the war. At the beginning of tbe 
war he was made quartermaster of Wilmington, and was after- 
wards made captain of the First Battalion, Heavy Artillery. 
This battalion went into the Battle of Bentonville with 260 men 
and came out with 115. Every officer except two was killed, 
wounded, or captured. Captain Rankin was among the killed, 
stricken by eight balls. 

Capt. John T. Rankin entered the Confederate Army as a 
private, and at the youthful age of nineteen was made first lieu- 
tenant of Company D, First Battalion, North Carolina Heavy 
Artillery, under Captain McCormick. He was at Fort Fisher 
during the first battle and was highly complimented by General 
Whiting for gallantry. During the second battle Captain 
McCormick was killed and Lieutenant Rankin became captain. 

He fought at Fort Anderson, and on February 20, 1865, was 
wounded in the thigh at Town Creek and taken prisoner. He 
was treated with great courtesy by Colonel Rundell, of the One 
Hundredth Ohio Regiment, and carried to the Old Capitol 
Prison at Washington, where he saw the crowd and commotion 
caused by the second inauguration of President Lincoln. He 
was afterwards sent to Fort Delaware, where he remained until 
released after the war. 

Maj. James I. Reilly: General Whiting, in his report of the 
fall of Fort Fisher, says: “Of Major Reilly, with his battalion 
of the Tenth North Carolina, who served the guns of the land 
face during the entire action, I have to say he has added another 
name to the long list of fields on which he has been conspicuous 
for indomitable pluck and consummate skill.” Colonel Lamb, 
in his official report, says: “Major Reilly, of the Tenth North 
Carolina Regiment, discharged his whole duty. To the coolness 
of Major Reilly we are indebted for the defense of the land 
face.” Maj. William J. Saunders, chief of artillery, says: “I 
would beg particularly to call attention to the skill displayed by 
that splendid artillerist, Maj. James Reilly, of the Tenth North 
Carolina Regiment.” 

James Reilly was a sergeant in the old United States Army, 
and was in charge of Fort Johnston, when, on January 10, 1861, 
it was hastily occupied by some ardent Southerners from Wil- 
mington. After the State seceded he was appointed captain of 
a light battery and won fame in Virginia. On September 7, 
1863, he was promoted to major, and John A. Ramsay became 
captain of the company. Major Reilly was one of the bravest 
and most efficient defenders of Fort Fisher. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

A. Paul Repiton, a son of Rev. A. Paul Repiton, joined the 
Corps of Engineers in 1863. He was a man of fine spirit and 
a very efficient soldier. 

C. H. Robinson enlisted early in the war, having given up a 
good business to respond to the call of his adopted State, and 
became quartermaster sergeant of the Pifty-first Regiment, 
North Carolina Troops, in which capacity he served throughout 
the war. 

His regiment was organized at Camp Mangum, near Raleigh, 
September 18, 1862, Col. J. V. Jordan, commanding; E. R. 
Liles, lieutenant colonel; J. A. McKoy, major; W. H. Battle, 
surgeon; John W. Cox, quartermaster; and C. H. Robinson, 
quartermaster sergeant. 

Frederick G. Robinson, a native of Bennington, Vermont, 
joined his prominent relatives on the Cape Fear prior to the 
war of 1861, and, full of enthusiasm for his adopted State, 
enlisted at the beginning of hostilities in the Wilmington Rifle 
Guards, which became Company I of the Eighth Regiment, 
North Carolina Volunteers, and with it, and later with the For- 
tieth, he did valiant service through all the campaigns to the 
Battle of Bentonville, where he was captured. He remained a 
prisoner of war until after the general surrender. 

The writer, an intimate, lifelong friend, who admired his 
brave and generous nature, recalls a characteristic incident in 
Sergeant Robinson’s military career. A contemptible comrade 
having behind his hack questioned his loyalty to the South on 
account of his Northern birth, Sergeant Robinson stepped out 
of the ranks and publicly denounced the base insinuation, and 
offered to fight each and every man then and there who dared to 
repeat the allegation. 

Beloved by many of his associates, his memory is still cher- 
ished in the hearts of his friends. 

Capt. Edward Savage was captain of Company D, Third 
Regiment, a company raised by him. In May, 1862, Lieuten- 
ant Colonel Cowan having been promoted to the colonelcy of the 
Eighteenth North Carolina Infantry, Captain Savage was made 
major. Major Savage was wounded in the Battle of Mechanics- 
ville. After the death of Col. Gaston Meares at Malvern Hill, 
Major Savage became lieutenant colonel. He resigned after the 
battles around Richmond on account of continued ill health. 

Capt. Henry Savage yras one of the organizers of the Wil- 
mington Light Infantry, in 1853, in which he held the rank of 

The War Between the States 


junior second lieutenant. With this command, which became 
Company G of the Eighth, later the Eighteenth, North Carolina 
Regiment, he entered the Confederate service in April, 1861, 
and in June was promoted to he captain of his company. He 
served in Virginia, in the brigade of General Branch, and par- 
ticipated in the Battle of Hanover Courthouse and the Seven 
Hays’ Battle before Richmond. He escaped serious injury from 
the enemy’s bullets, though hit several times ; but, falling a vic- 
tim to disease as the result of arduous service and exposure, he 
was sent to a hospital in Richmond, and a few days later allowed 
to go home on furlough. Eour or five months afterwards, 
having in a measure recovered strength, he attempted to rejoin 
his regiment, hut, suffering a relapse en route, he returned home 
and accepted an honorable discharge. In the early part of 1863 
he was appointed by President Havis collector of customs at the 
port of Wilmington and depositary for the Confederate States 
Treasury, and the duties of this position occupied him until the 
close of the struggle for independence. After the fall of Eort 
Eisher he retired to Raleigh, and, establishing his office in a box 
car, moved west as necessity demanded until the fall of the gov- 

Daniel Shackelford enlisted with Company I, Eighth Regi- 
ment, and served in it for twelve months. He reenlisted in the 
Sixty-first Regiment and became first lieutenant, and was killed 
at the Battle of Eraser’s Earm. His brother Theodore, who was 
in the same command, and who was also in the hospital with 
him, died literally of a broken heart, grieving because of the 
death of his brother. 

Dr. Joseph C. Shepard, of Wilmington, was horn in New 
Hanover County in 1840. Early in the fall of 1861 he enlisted 
in the Confederate States service and, being commissioned as- 
sistant surgeon, was assigned to duty on the coast, with Adams’ 
battery. In the fall of 1864 he was transferred to Eort Fisher, 
where he remained through the first bombardment and the sec- 
ond, at the latter being captured with the brave defenders. He 
was sent as a prisoner of war to Governor’s Island and held 
there until early in March following, when he was returned to 
duty in North Carolina and assigned to the hospital at Greens- 
boro, where he remained until after the surrender. 

Rev. James A. Smith as a boy participated in the War be- 
tween the States, manifesting the same courage and energy 
which characterized his subsequent life. At the age of seven- 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

teen he enlisted as a private in the Confederate service in 
Company D, First North Carolina Heavy Artillery, January 
13, 1865, and was given a position as courier for Major General 
Whiting. While serving in this capacity he was with the troops 
at Fort Fisher, and on January 15, 1865, during the bombard- 
ment and assault of that stronghold, was wounded. He was 
taken prisoner with the garrison and confined for six months 
at Point Lookout, being released June 9, 1865. 

Maj. James Martin Stevenson entered the Confederate Army 
at the beginning of the war as first lieutenant of a company 
raised by Capt. J. J. Hedrick. 

Soon after the seizure of Fort Johnston, Lieutenant Steven- 
son was ordered to Fort Caswell as ordnance officer, and while 
there three young men from Sampson County raised a company 
and offered him the captaincy, which he accepted. This com- 
pany was attached to the Thirty-sixth Regiment and ordered to 
Fort Fisher, where Captain Stevenson was made major of the 
regiment. Major Stevenson remained at Fort Fisher until he 
was ordered to reinforce General Hardee in Georgia. There he 
was highly complimented for his cool bravery and tact in cover- 
ing General Hardee’s retreat. He took with him to Georgia five 
companies from the Thirty-sixth Regiment. 

Major Stevenson was again remanded to his regiment at Fort 
Fisher, where he arrived just after the attack in December, 
1864. On the 13th of January, 1865, the attack was renewed. 
In the battle Major Stevenson was hurled from the parapet by 
the explosion of an eleven-inch shell. He fell bleeding in the 
fort below the battery and was carried a prisoner to Fort Colum- 
bus, Governor’s Island, N. Y., where he died. He did his whole 
duty and did it well. Wilmington had no nobler son. 

James C. Stevenson and Daniel S. Stevenson were worthy 
sons of Maj. James M. Stevenson, of Wilmington. Both en- 
listed in the Confederate Army when they were much below the 
service age limit. James, for a time, was employed on the 
North Carolina steamer Advance; afterwards he served in the 
field as a private in Company A, Thirty-sixth Regiment, North 
Carolina Troops. He survived the war, and was for many years 
a prominent merchant, a most estimable citizen, and an active 
Christian worker. He died April 13, 1907, lamented by the 

Daniel Stevenson was an efficient member of the Confederate 
States Signal Corps, and was detailed for active service with 

The War Between the States 


the blockade runners, on several of which he served with great 
coolness under fire. He was captured in 1865 off Galveston and 
imprisoned until the war ended. His last exploit was running 
through the blockade in daylight in the steamer Little Hattie , 
which drew the fire of the whole fleet, hut anchored compara- 
tively uninjured under the guns of Fort Fisher. Dan Steven- 
son was a young man of most amiable, generous impulses, and 
was greatly esteemed by his associates for his many excellent 
qualities. He died shortly after the termination of the war. 

Capt. William M. Stevenson was elected one of the lieuten- 
ants of Company B, Sixty-first Regiment of Forth Carolina 
Troops, of which James D. Radcliffe of Wilmington was colonel 
and William S. Devane lieutenant-colonel and subsequently 
colonel. At the Battle of Fort Harrison, in Virginia, Septem- 
ber, 1864, while in command of the company, to which position 
he had succeeded, he was captured and taken to Fort Delaware, 
where he was confined until the surrender. 

Captain Stevenson’s service in the field was continuous from 
his enlistment in 1861 up to the last of 1864, including the 
action at Fort Hatteras and the campaigns of the Army of 
Horthern Virginia. 

Rev. Dr. James Menzies Sprunt, who was principal of the 
Grove Academy, went to the front with the Duplin Rifles and 
became chaplain of the Twentieth Regiment, Forth Carolina 
Troops, commanded by Colonel Iverson, in Garland’s brigade, 
D. H. Hill’s division, under Stonewall Jackson. General Hill, 
who greatly admired him, said he was one of the few chaplains 
always at the front on the battlefield. He served throughout 
the war, revered by the men of his regiment, and was greatly 
beloved at his home in Duplin County throughout his honored 

Maj. Matthew P. Taylor was major of the Sixth Battalion, 
Armory Guards. The battalion was as well drilled and as 
thoroughly disciplined as any command in the Confederate 

Capt. John F. S. VanBokkelen left Harvard College in 1861 
and returned to Wilmington, where he aided in raising a com- 
pany which was assigned to the Third Forth Carolina Infantry 
as Company D, Edward Savage, captain; E. G. Meares, first 
lieutenant; and John F. S. VanBokkelen, second lieutenant. 
He served through the Seven Days’ Battles around Richmond, 
and at Sharpshurg, Fredericksburg and Chancellorsville with 
conspicuous bravery. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

After the Seven Days’ Battles around Bichmond he was pro- 
moted to first lieutenant, and he acted as adjutant of the com- 
pany for some time. After the Battle of Sharpsburg he was 
promoted to he captain of the company, Captain Meares having 
been killed. Capt. VanBokkelen was wounded at the Battle 
of Chancellorsville, and died within a month afterwards. 

It was with genuine grief that the death of Capt. Van- 
Bokkelen, which occurred in Bichmond, was announced to the 
regiment while on the march in the campaign of 1863. He was 
universally popular and almost idolized by his own men. He 
was but twenty-one years of age, and full of youthful ardor, 
intelligent, and with an acute conception of his duties and an 
indomitable energy in pursuing the line of conduct which a dis- 
criminating judgment dictated to him. To him, probably more 
than to any other officer, was due the high morale which the com- 
pany attained. His surviving classmates of Jewett’s school still 
remember the sterling character of this worthy son of the Cape 
Fear, who was generally beloved for his unselfish, kindly nature 
and genial humor. 

Bev. Dr. Alfred A. Watson was chaplain of the Second Begi- 
ment, and, besides his clerical duties, gave valuable service as a 
scout. His acquaintance with the topography of the country was 
of great value to the commanding officer. He had the profound 
respect of every mam He was commissioned the 21st of June, 
1861, and resigned in 1862. He preached in Wilmington many 
years after the war, and was bishop of the diocese of East Caro- 
lina from 1884 until his death. 

Capt. O. A. Wiggins, a gallant veteran of Lane’s brigade, 
entered the service as a private in the Scotland Heck Mounted 
Biflemen, organized in his native county, and subsequently was 
promoted to lieutenant of Company E, Thirty-seventh Begi- 
ment, in the brigade then commanded by General Branch, and 
later by General Lane. With this command he went through 
the entire war, participating in the battles at Hanover Court- 
house, Mechanicsville, Cold Harbor, Eraser’s Farm, Cedar 
Bun, Second Manassas, Ox Hill, Sharpsburg, Harper’s Ferry, 
Shepherdstown, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, Gettysburg, 
Falling Waters, Bristow Station, Mine Bun, the Wilderness, 
Spottsylvania Courthouse, Beams Station, Jones’s Farm, Hare’s 
Hill, and the fighting on the Petersburg lines until they were 
broken. He was wounded at Chancellorsville. At Spottsylvania 
Courthouse, May 12, he was promoted to captain on the field, 

The War Between the States 


and was wounded on the same field May 21; at Petersburg, 
April 2, he was shot in the head and made prisoner. While be- 
ing conveyed to Johnson’s Island, he escaped by jumping from 
a car window while the train was at full speed, near Harris- 
burg, Pa., after which he disguised himself and worked his 
way back to Dixie. 

Capt. J. Marshall Williams, of Pay etteville, entered the Con- 
federate service in the Bethel Pegiment as a private. When the 
regiment was disbanded he and Col. K. M. Murchison organized 
a company of 125 men, which was assigned to the Fifty-fourth 
Regiment. After the Fifty-fourth Regiment was organized, it 
was sent immediately to Lee’s army and assigned to Hood’s 
brigade. When Hood was promoted, Gen. Robert F. Hoke suc- 
ceeded to the command. The brigade was composed of the Sixth, 
Twenty-first, Fifty-fourth, and Fifty-seventh Regiments and 
was in Jackson’s corps. This brigade was under six or eight 
different commanders, but was always known as Hoke’s old 
brigade. It was in most of Lee’s battles. When the regiment 
was captured at Fredericksburg, Captain Williams was absent 
on detached service. 

Having no command, he was then detailed to command sharp- 
shooters in different regiments until his regiment was exchanged. 
He had the rank of captain and was adjutant and inspector gen- 
eral. He saw his regiment overpowered and captured twice, and 
on the latter occasion made his escape by swimming the Rapidan 
River near Brandy Station. He was wounded once, and had his 
shoulder dislocated by a fall. He surrendered at Appomattox 
as second senior officer of the regiment, and rode home on a 
horse that had been with Hoke’s staff for two years and wounded 

Capt. A. B. Williams, of Fayetteville, entered the Confeder- 
ate service at the age of eighteen as second lieutenant of Com- 
pany C, Light Battery, Tenth Regiment, organized at Charlotte, 
May 16, 1861, and was promoted to captain March 1, 1864. 
He was first ordered to Raleigh, then to Hew Bern and various 
other places in eastern North Carolina, and was in many of the 
great battles, including Malvern Hill, Gettysburg, the Wilder- 
ness, Spottsylvania Courthouse, where he was severely wounded, 
Petersburg, and Appomattox Courthouse. He was attached to 
Pogue’s battalion, Third Corps, Army of Northern Virginia, 
and went with Lee’s army to Maryland and Pennsylvania. 

His battery is supposed to have fired one of the last, if not the 

366 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

last, shots at Appomattox. He was subsequently mayor of Fay- 
etteville, chairman of the Board of County Commissioners, cap- 
tain of the Lafayette Light Infantry, president of the Centen- 
nial Celebration, and delegate to State and National conven- 

From a eulogy by Colonel Broadfoot, a fellow-member of the 
United Confederate Veterans’ Camp, the following is taken: 

“Comrades : — This time it is an artilleryman- — Capt. Arthur 
Butler Williams, of Brem’s battery, Army of Northern Vir- 
ginia, Company C, Tenth Begiment, North Carolina Troops, 
whose guns fired the last shot at Appomattox, which will echo 
and reecho to the last syllable of recorded time, and gladden all 
hearts ready and worthy to do and die for country. In the 
sixty-first year of his age he passed quietly to his rest. 

“He was of fine presence, good manners, pleasing address, 
and withal plain as a pikestaff. His habits were exemplary, his 
principles sound, his character the highest; in the community, 
in fact, in this part of the State, everybody knew him, everybody 
respected, and those who knew him best, loved him. 

“We shall miss his manly form, his cheerful greeting — the 
eyes that looked you squarely in the face, hut always pleasantly. 
The open hands are now folded, palm downward; the tongue 
that always voiced the bright side, and was never — no never — 
known to grumble, has been hushed. 

“Comrades, let us speak more often the kindly word, extend 
more readily the helping hand to each other; and let each 
soldier keep his armor bright against that day, when each in 
turn shall be called to pass inspection before the great Cap- 
fain — ‘Close up.’ ” 

Capt. Robert Williams became captain of the Rifle Guards, 
hut later, resigning, was appointed purser of the blockade runner 
Index , and died of yellow fever while in that service. 

Capt. David Williams, of the Burgaw section of New Han- 
over, raised Company K of the Third Regiment of State Troops, 
and was one of the most valued officers of that regiment. He 
had the esteem, confidence, and affection of his soldiers to a 
remarkable degree. 

Thomas Fanning Wood, in April, 1861, joined the Wilming- 
ton Rifle Guards, which later became Company I, Eighth Regi- 
ment of Volunteers. In November, 1861, the regiment was 
hurried to Coosawhatchie to confront the Federals who had 
landed on the South Carolina coast; and in the spring of 1862, 
it joined Jackson’s corps in Virginia. 

The War Between the States 


Dr. Wood was often called on to help the sick soldiers in the 
hospitals, and after the Seven Days’ Battles around Richmond 
he was ordered to hospital duty. When Dr. Otis F. Manson, of 
Richmond Hospital, learned that he was a medical student, he 
secured from the Secretary of War an order detailing him for 
duty at the hospital, with the privilege of attending lectures at 
the Virginia Medical College. Doctor Manson had brought his 
library to Richmond with him, and gave Dr. Wood free access 
to it. In 1862, after passing the examination by the Medical 
Board, Dr. Wood was appointed assistant surgeon and served in 
that capacity until the end of the war. 

After the war, Dr. Wood attained eminence in his profession. 
He served many years as secretary of the State Medical Society, 
and he established and edited until his death the Medical J our- 
nalj a publication, highly valued by his professional brethren. 

John L. Wooster was first lieutenant of Company E, First 
Regiment. He was wounded in the shoulder at one of the 
Seven Days’ Battles around Richmond in 1862, and disabled 
from further service. 

William A. Wooster, private, Company I, Eighteenth Regi- 
ment, was killed in the Seven Days’ fight in Virginia. He was 
one of the brightest young men of the Cape Fear. He had been 
commissioned lieutenant before he was killed. 

Adam Empie Wright was commissioned the 20th of July, 
1862, as assistant surgeon of the Hew Hanover County Hos- 
pital, in Wilmington. 

Thomas Charles Wright, sergeant major, was one of the 
brightest and best of the Wilmington boys who went from 
Jewett’s school to the War between the States. Fired with the 
enthusiasm of youth and manly courage, he served with great 
credit in the Virginia campaigns and was mortally wounded in 
the head and died at a hospital in Richmond. 

Capt. James A. Wright, son of Dr. Thomas H. Wright, was 
captain of Company E, First Regiment. He was killed in the 
battles around Richmond. He was the most brilliant young 
man of Wilmington — and of the State — and his early death 
was greatly deplored. 

Lieut. Joshua Grainger Wright first enlisted for military 
duty in the spring of 1862, becoming the orderly sergeant of an 
independent cavalry company. But he was with this command 
not more than four or five weeks when he became a member of 
the First Horth Carolina Infantry, which had been on duty in 

368 Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Virginia since July, 1861. In this regiment he was commis- 
sioned first lieutenant of Company E. The regiment was part 
of Ripley’s brigade, D. H. Hill’s division, and served with great 
credit in the Battles of Boonsboro, or South Mountain, Sharps- 
burg, Fredericksburg, and Chancellorsville. At the last battle, 
while participating in the gallant assault by Jackson’s corps, 
he was seriously wounded, a shot passing through his left hip. 
This caused his entire disability until the spring of 1864, when 
he attempted to reenter the service, but soon found it impossible 
to undertake duty in the field. Returning to Wilmington, he 
was assigned to duty in the office of the provost marshal for 
several months. He made two more attempts to enter the field, 
but without success. 

Charles W. Yates enlisted in 1862 in an independent cavalry 
company organized from several counties, which became Com- 
pany E, of the Forty-first Regiment, Horth Carolina Troops. 
During nearly the whole of his service he acted as courier for 
Col. John A. Baker and his successor, Col. Roger Moore. 
Among the cavalry engagements in which he took part were 
those at Hew Bern, Kinston, Hanover Courthouse, Reams Sta- 
tion, Ashland, Chaffin’s Farm, Drewry’s Bluff, and Petersburg. 
He was slightly wounded in the skirmish near Kinston; and 
just after the fall of Hew Bern in June, 1862, he was captured 
and imprisoned in a jail at that place several months, and after- 
wards held nearly two months at Governor’s Island and Fort 
Delaware before he was exchanged. During the retreat at 
Appomattox Courthouse, he was captured in the fight at Hamo- 
zine Church, April 6, and after that was a prisoner of war at 
Point Lookout until June, 1865. 

The War Between the States 



Doubtless many examples of faithful, efficient, and ever 
heroic service have been overlooked in the preparation of this 
record, although diligent inquiries have been made in order that 
it might be as nearly complete as possible. To this end I have 
been permitted to copy the roster of Cape Fear Camp, U. C. V., 
although it may be said that it comprises only a part of that 
great number of Wilmington men who served the Confederacy 
in the War between the States. 

Alderman, Allison 

Alderman, G. F. 

Private, Co. I, 10th N. C 

Atkinson, John W. 

Colonel, 10th Va. Artillery Died Oct. 26, 1910. 

Baldwin, A. M. 

Private, Co. K, 40th N. C 

Barry, John 

Sergeant, Co. E, 1st N. C Died Mar. 28, 1914. 

Bear, Solomon 

Private, Howard’s Cavalry Died Feb. 24, 1904. 

Bellamy, W. J. H. 

Private, Co. I, 18th N. C Died Nov. 18, 1911. 

Belden, Louis S. 

Sergeant, Co. E, 10th N. C Died June 8, 1914. 

Bernard, W. H. 

Private, Co. H, Bethel Regiment 

Bishop, C. W. 

Private, Co. I, 10th N. C 

Bishop, H. M. 

Private, Co. H, 3d N. C 

Blackwell, Rev. C. S. 

Sergeant, Co. F, 2d Va Removed to Norfolk, Va. 

Blanks, William 

Non-Commissioned, Staff, 61st N. C Died Feb. 26, 1904. 

Bolles, C. P. 

Captain, P. A. C. S Died 1910 or 1911. 

Boatwright, J. L. 

Captain, P. A. C. S 

Boatwright, J. H. 

Private, 1st Bat. S. C. Cadets Died Jan. 27, 1911. 

Boney, G. J. 

Corporal, Co. H, 40th N. C 

Bowden, W. B. 

Private, Co. H, 3d Cavalry Died Mar. 15, 1903. 

Brown, A. D. 

Lieutenant, Co. C, Cumming’s Battery 

Brown, E. A. 

Private, Co. C, 4th Artillery Died June 26, 1905. 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Brown, George L. 

Hart’s Battery, Va Sent to Richmond 1909 

Brown, I. H. 

Private, Co. K, 3d N. C .Died May 5, 1892 

Brown, T. A. 

Sergeant, 36th N. C Died Aug. 14, 1902 

Bunting, T. O. 

Private, Co. C, 5th Cavalry Died June 20, 1913 

Burr, Ancrum 

Lieutenant, Co. D, 36th N. C Removed 

Burr, James G. 

Colonel, 7th Batt. H. G Died Nov. 13, 1898 

Calder, William 

Adjutant, 1st Batt. Artillery 

Cantwell, J. L. 

Colonel, 51st N. C Died Dec. 21, 1909 

Capps, T. J. 

Corporal, Co. E, 3d N. C 

Carman, Samuel 

Private, Co. E, 56th N. C Died Apr. 17, 1902 

Carmichael, Rev. James 

Chaplain, 30th Va Died Nov. 25, 1911 

Cazaux, A. D. 

Captain, A. Q. M., 18th N. C 

Chadwick, Robert 

Private, Co. K, 3d N. C 

Chapman, Louis 

Private, Co. D, 2d Cavalry 

Cobb, John G. 

Private, Co. C, 1st Batt. Artillery 

Collier, Sam P. 

Sergeant Major, 2d N. C 

Cook, A. B. 

Sergeant, Co. I, 18th N. C Died Jan. 12, 1908 

Corbett, R. A. 

Private, Co. C, 4th Cavalry 

Cornish, F. W. 

Private, Co. H, 51st N. C 

Cornish, W. A. 

Private, Co. H, 18th N. C 

Cowan, M. S. 

Captain, Co. I, 3d N. C .Died Mar. 24, 1900 

Cowles, Charles L. 

Captain, Co. B, 56th N. C Died Oct. 9, 1901 

Cox, R. E. 

Private, Co. B, S. C. Cavalry 

Crapon, George M. 

Lieutenant, Co. H, 3d N. C 

Crow, J. E. 

Sergeant, Co. E, 12th Va Died Nov. 4, 1907 

Cumming, J. D. 

Captain, Cumming’s Battery Died Nov. 26, 1901 

Cumming, Preston 

Sergeant, Cumming’s Battery 

Currie, John H. 

Private, 5th Cavalry To Fayetteville Camp 

The War Between the States 


Casteen, J. B. 

Orderly Sergeant, Co. D, 3d N. C 

Private, Co. G, 20th N. C. . 

Cannon, J. W. 

* * * 

Cannon, Alfred 
* * 

* * 

Private, Co. F, 67th N. C . . 

Cox, T. B. 

* * * 

Cox, A. F. 

* * 

* * 

Major, P. A. C. S 

Daves, Graham 

, .Resigned, Feb. 1, 


Sergeant, Co. K, 5th N. C. . 

Davis, Jackson 


Corporal, Co. E, 10th N. C.. 

Davis, Junius 

Died April 11, 1916. 

Private, Co. A, 35th N. C. . 

Davis, M. T. 

Captain, P. A. C. S 

DeRosset, A. L. 

Died Feb., 


DeRosset, William L. 
Colonel, 3d N. C 


Private, Co. D, 3d N. C 

Dickey, J. J. 


Private, Co. E, 10th N. C. . . 

Dicksey, J. W. 

Captain, A. Q. M., C. S. A. . 

Divine, J. F. 

Died Aug. 20, 1909. 

Private, Co. G, 10th N. C. . 

Dixon, W. M. 

Private, Co. I, 10th N. C.. . 

Dowdy, W. R. 

Died Dec. 19, 


Goldsboro Provost Guard . 

Darden, R. J. 

Private, Co. I, 10th N. C. .. 

Elliott, W. P. 

Died May 20, 


Evans, A. H. 


Private, Co. I, 10th N. C. . . 

Everett, John A. 

Lieutenant, Co. A, 43d N. C 

Farrior, S. R. 


Private, Co. E, 10th N. C. . . 

Farrow, J. A. 


Farrow, Benjamin 

Private, Co. E, 10th N. C 

Died Oct. 14, 


Lieutenant, Co. C, 1st N. C. 

Fennell, Owen 


Corporal, Co. A, 40th N. C. 

Fillyaw, DeLeon 


Private, Co. A, 40th N. C. . 

Fillyaw, O. M. 

Private, Co. E, 51st N. C . . 

French, W. R. 

Surgeon, 28th N. C 

Gaither, W. W. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Ganzer, C. H. 

Private, Howard’s Cavalry Died May 22, 1899. 

Garrell, Jacob P. 

Private, Co. I, 10th N. C • Died May 29, 1891. 

Giles, Clayton 

Private, Co. I, 63d Ga. Volunteers 

Giles, Norwood 

Private, Co. E, 10th N. C Died Dec. 11, 1899. 

Goodman, William 

Private, Co. A, 1st Batt. Artillery Died Apr. 3, 1911. 

Gore, D. L. 

Private, Co. D, 72d N. C 

Gray, Jesse W. 

Private, Co. B, 3d Cavalry Died Apr. 18, 1911. 

Green, W. H. 

Sergeant Major, Starr’s Battery Died Jan. 12, 1914. 

Hall, B. F. 

Sergeant, Co. A, 43d N. C 

Hall, E. D. 

Colonel, 46th N. C Died June 11, 1896. 

Hall, S. G. 

Private, Co. E, 21st N. C Died July 31, 1911. 

Hamme, R. F. 

Private, Co. G, 30th N. C 

Hanby, John H. 

Private, Co. B, 16th Va Died Apr. 22, 1910. 

Hanby, Joseph H. 

Private, Co. B, 16th Va Died Sept. 8, 1905. 

Hancock, J. T. 

Private, Co. I, 10th N. C 

Hankins, J. A. 

Private, Co. C, Starr’s Battery Died July, 1910. 

Hankins, A. G. 

Lieutenant, Co. H, 3d Cavalry 

Hankins, W. M. 

Private, Co. H, 3d Cavalry 

Harper, John H. 

Private, Co. H, 3d N. C Died 

Harriss, W. W. 

Assistant Surgeon Died. 

Hawkins, J. W. 

Private, Co. A, 1st Batt. Artillery 

Hayden, P, H. 

Private, Co. C, 19th Va Died 

Heide, A. S. 

Private, Co. A, 5th Cavalry Resigned Feb. 4, 1901. 

Heide, R. E. 

Private, Co. H, 1st N. C Died June 13, 1905. 

Heinsberger, P. 

Private, Co. C, Starr’s Battery 

Henderson, T. B. 

Lieutenant, Co. H, 3d Cavalry Died Mar. 10, 1890. 

Hewett, James H. 

Sergeant, Co. F, 3d N. C Died Mar. 20, 1913. 

Hicks, James H. 

Private, Co. F, 3d N. C Died Nov. 9, 1908. 

The War Between the States 


Hill, A. J. 

Sergeant, Co. C, 4th Cavalry 

Hill, Owen C. 

Private, Co. G, 3d N. C 

Hines, John W. 

Private, Co. D, 3d N. C 

Hodges, L. W. 

Private, 16th Va 

Hodges, T. A. 

Company E, 15th Batt. Artillery 

Huggins, George W. 

Lieutenant, Co. I, 18th N. C 

Huggins, J. B. 

Captain, A. Q. M., C. S. A 

Hawes, J. J. 

Sergeant, Co. G, 20th N. C 

James, Josh T. 

Lieutenant, Co. I, 18th N. C. 

Jewett, Stephen 

Private, Co. K, 44th Ga 

Jones, George T. 

Lieutenant, Co. E, 50th N. C 

Keeter, Elijah 

Private, Co. D, 3d N. C 

Kelly, D. C. 

Private, Co. B, 36th N. C 

Kelly, James E. 

Private, Co. K, 20th N. C 

Kenly, John R. 

Private, Co. A, 1st Md. Cavalry 

Kenan, W. R. 

Adjutant, 43d N. C 

King, Charles H. 

Q. M. Sergeant, 61st N. C 

King, James A. 

Private, Co. A, 3d Cavalry 

King, James A. 

Private, Co. B, 10th N. C 

King, James M. 

Private, Co. F, 3d N. C 

King, John M. 

Private, Co. I, 10th N. C 

King, T. E. 

Sergeant, Co. I, 10th N. C 

King, W. H. 

Private, Co. A, 3d Cavalry 

Latta, John R. 

Adjutant, 51st N. C. 

Lee, J. B. 

* * * * * 


Leon, L. 

Private, Co. C, 1st N. C 

Leslie, Alexander 

Private, Co. G, 18th N. C 

Leslie, Joseph H. 

Private, Co. G, 18th N. C 

. .Died 

Died Sept. 2, 1904. 
.Died Feb. 27, 1906. 

. .Died May 16, 1910. 

Died Nov. 13, 1899. 


Died Nov. 2, 1910. 

Died Apr. 14, 1903. 
.Died 1909 or 1910. 

. .Died Dec., 1912. 
Died Dec. 1, 1911. 

Died June 30, 1898. 
* * 

Died Sept. 13, 1896. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Lewis, Thomas C. 

Captain, Co. I, 18th N. C Died Nov. 14, 1909. 

Lippitt, Thomas B. 

Lieutenant, Co. G, 51st N. C Died Dec. 21, 1898. 

Littleton, D. C. 

Private, Co. H, 41st N. C 

Loftin, Dr. I. C. M. 

Company E, 20th M Died 

Love, Richard S. 

Sergeant, Co. C, 4th Cavalry .Died 

Love, Thaddeus D. 

Major, 24th N. C Died Jan. 6, 1892. 

Lumsden, H. C. 

Private, Co. E, 1st N. C 

MacRae, W. G. 

Captain, Co. C, 7th N. C 

Manning, E. W. 

Chief Engineer, C. S. N Died Dec. 10, 1900. 

Martin, E. S. 

Lieutenant, 1st Batt. Artillery 

Marshall, J. R. 

Private, Co. E, 3d N. C 

Mason, W. H. 

Private, Co. E, 3d N. C 

Matthews, D. W. 

Private, Co. C, 1st Batt. Artillery 

Matthews, J. E. 

Sergeant, Sharpshooters Dropped by request, Apr. 9, 1910. 

Meares, O. P. 

Lieutenant Colonel, 18th N. C Died Nov. 21, 1906. 

Meares, T. D. 

Courier to Gen. Wade Hampton 

Merritt, Joseph 

Private, 18th N. C Died Aug. 12, 1904. 

Merritt, L. W. 


Metts, J. I. 

Captain, Co. G, 3d N. C 

Mitchell, Frank H. 

Private, Co. I, 18th N. C Died Feb. 28, 1899. 

Mintz, W. W. 

Private, Co. I, 10th N. C Died Sept. 15, 1897. 

Montgomery, James A. 

Private, Co. B, 36th N. C 

Moore, Benjamin R. 

Lieutenant Colonel, Gen. Bates’s Staff Died Apr. 12, 1894. 

Moore, E. H. 

Lieutenant, Co. D, 7th N. C 

Moore, Edward J. 

Sergeant, Co. G, 18th N. C Died May 12, 1891. 

Moore, Roger 

Lieutenant Colonel, 3d N. C Died Apr. 21, 1900. 

Moore, W. A. 

Private, Co. K, 36th N. C Died Apr. 25, 1906. 

Moore, W. H. 

Private, Co. A, 1st Cavalry 

The War Between the States 


Morton, Rev. P. C. 

Chaplain, 23d Ya Died Feb. 28, 1903. 

Mott, A. J. 

Private, Co. G, 61st N. C 

Munn, D. 

Captain, Co. B, 36th N. C Died Feb., 1905 

Myers, Charles D. 

Captain, P. A. C. S Died Oct. 2, 1892 

Myrry, R. S. 

McClammy, Charles W. 

Major, 3d Cavalry Died Feb. 26, 1896 

McClammy, Charles W. 

Private, Co. F, 3d N. C Died Nov. 19, 1900 

McEvoy, John 

Lieutenant, Co. A, 2d N. C Died Nov. 21, 1896 

McGirt, A. G. 

Private, Co. D, 46th N. C Died Aug. 22, 1890 

McGowan, James M. 

Captain, A. Q. M Died June 20, 1903 

McIntyre, R. M. 

Captain, Co. C, 4th Cavalry Died Apr. 17, 1913 

Mclver, J. T. 

Private, Co. G, 48th N. C Died Feb. 24, 1907 

McKeithan, R. W. 

Corporal, Co. E, 10th N. C 

McKoy, T. Hall 

Major Lane’s Staff Died May 10, 1902 

McMillan, W. D. 

Sergeant Major, 51st N. C 

McQueen, H. C. 

Private, Co. D, 1st Batt. Artillery 

Nobles, S. W. 

Captain, Co. K, 61st N. C Died Feb. 16, 1904 

Northrop, W. H. 

Captain, A. Q. M., 3d N. C 

Oldham, William P. 

Captain, Co. K, 44th N. C 

Ormsby, James O. 

Private, Co. I, 10th N. C 

Ortman, F. W. 

Private, Co. A, 25th S. C Died Apr. 22, 1911 

Pearce, E. L. 

Captain, Co. E, 26th Ga Died 

Percy, A. B. 

Lieutenant, Co. F, 56th Regiment Died Oct. 13, 1893 

Pickett, J. H. 

Private, Co. B, 1st Batt. Artillery 

Pinner, J. L. 

Private, Co. A, 1st Batt. Artillery 

Poisson, J. D. 

Sergeant, Co. G., 18th N. C Died Jan. 11, 1911 

Porter, Elijah 

Captain, Co. E, 3d N. C Died July 1, 1907 

Potter, Dr. F. W. 

Surgeon, 50th N. C Died June 1, 1893 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Pratt, D. 

Private, Co. I, 10th N. C 

Prempert, H. C. 

Sergeant, Co. H, 2d N. C 

Price, Joseph 

Commander, C. S. N 

Price, R. W. 

Private, Co. D, 72d N. C 

Primrose, John W. 

Captain, A. C. S., 1st Cavalry 

Rankin, R. G. 

Private, Co. A, 1st Batt. Artillery 

Rankin, J. T. 

Lieutenant, Co. D, 1st Batt. Artillery 

Reaves, Calvin 

Private, Co. G, 61st N. C 

Reaves, J. F. A. 

Private, Co. F, 3d N. C 

Reaves, R. M. 

Private, Co. E, 18th N. C 

Rivenbark, W. W. 

Private, Co. F, 20th N. C 

Roberts, B. M. 

Private, Co. C, 13th Battery 

Robinson, Charles H. 

Quartermaster, 31st N. C 

Rogers, J. M. 

Private, Co. B, 1st Batt. Artillery 

Ruark, J. H. 

Sergeant, Co. F, 3d N. C 

Russell, B. R. 

Assistant Engineer, C. S. N 

Savage, Henry 

Captain, Co. G, 18th N. C 

Scharf, E. 

Private, 1st Batt. Ala. Cavalry 

Schenck, N. W. 

Captain, A. C. S 

Schriver, Eli 

Private, Co. H, 3d N. C. Cavalry 

Sharp, John H. 

Private, 13th Batt. Va. Artillery 

Shepard, Dr. J. C. 

Assistant Surgeon, C. S. A 

Shepard, T. A. 

Lieutenant, Co. G, 18th N. C 

Shutte, John T. 

Corporal, Starr’s Battery 

Sikes, R. J. 

Private, Co. H, 3d N. C 

Skipper, Joshua G. 

Private, Co. I, 10th N. C 

Smith, H. H. 

Lieutenant, Co. A, 5th N. C 

Smith, Rev. J. A. 

Private, Co. I, N, C. Artillery 


, . . .Died Sept. 17, 1896. 

Died May 15, 1895. 

. . . .Died Nov. 25, 1909. 
Resigned Dec. 29, 1890. 
. . . .Died June 28, 1913. 

Died June 27, 1908. 

Died Nov. 25, 1904. 
. .Died Feb. 4, 1903. 

Died Dec. 15, 1906. 

Died Aug. 1, 1904. 

Removed to New York. 

Died Mar. 4, 1903. 

Died July 5, 1899. 

Removed to New York. 

.Died Dec. 18, 1904. 
Died Aug. 24, 1908. 

The War Between the States 


Smith, M. K. 

Private, Co. D, 72d N. C 

Smith, Peter H. 

Private, Co. F, 3d N. C 

Smith, T. Jefferson. 

Sneeden, S. J. 

Private, Co. A, 3d N. C 

Died Dec. 7, 1910. 

Southerland, D. D. 

Private, Co. I, 10th N. C 

Southerland, T. J. 

Captain, Co. I, 10th N. C 

...Died Feb. 18, 1891. 

Spooner, W. T. 

Company F, 3d N. C 

Stedman, C. M. 

Major, 44th N. C 

Stevenson, J. C. 

Private, Co. A, 36th N. C 

Stevenson, W. M. 

Captain, Co. B, 61st N. C 

Stolter, Henry 

Private, Co. A, 18th N. C 

Died Oct. 5, 1896. 

Stolter, John F. 

Private, Co. A, 18th N. C. 

....Died Dec. 27, 1903. 

Story, S. A. 

Private, Co. 1, 10th N. C 

Sutton, D. M. 

Private, Co. K, 18th N. C 

Swain, S. A. 

Private, Co. C, 1st Batt. Artillery 

. . . .Died Feb. 11, 1899. 

Sykes, Thomas P. 

Private, 3d N. C. Cavalry 

Taylor, James H. 

Adjutant, 51st N. C 

Taylor, John D. 

Lieutenant Colonel, 36th N. C 

. .. .Died May 21, 1912. 

Taylor, J. J. 

Private, Co. H, 3d Cavalry 

Taylor, Lewis 

Private, Co. B, 1st Batt. Artillery 

.Died Oct. 8, 1912. 

Taylor, M. P. 

Tilley, George F. 

Private, Co. H, 18th N. C 

Turrentine, J. R. 

Hart’s Battery, Light Artillery 

Ulmer, J. H. 

Van Amringe, Stacy 

Captain, Co. G, 61st N. C 

Died Jan. 2, 1897. 

Voss, John G. 

Private, Co. A, 18th N. C 

....Died July 19, 1890. 

Waddell, A. M. 

Lieutenant Colonel, 3d N. C 

....Died Mar. 17, 1912. 

Walker, J. Alvis 

Private, Co. E, 2d Eng., C. S. A 

. . . .Died Sept. 29, 1912. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

Walker, John M. 

Orderly Sergeant, Co. F, 2d N. C. Batt. Artillery 

Walker, J. P. 

Private, Co. E, 18th N. C Died 1909 or 1910. 

Wallace, J. P. 

Color Corporal, Co. C, 51st N. C Died Oct., 1911. 

Ward, C. H. 

Private, Co. G, 10th N. C 

Warrock, E. S. 

Corporal, Ga. Artillery Removed. 

Warrock W. S. 

Captain, Co. B, 1st Ala. Cavalry Died Mar. 19, 1900. 

Watkins, L. A. 

Private, Co. D, 5th N. C. Batt. Artillery 

Watson, Rt. Rev. A. A. 

Chaplain, 2d N. C Died Apr. 21, 1905. 

Watson, A. W. 

Private, Co. F, 7th N. C 

Weill, Abram 

Medical Department 

West, John W. 

Sergeant, Co. D, 36th N. C 

White, B. F. 

Lieutenant, Co. I, 18th N. C 

Wiggs, Alexander W. 

Sergeant, Co. D, 36th N. C 

Wiggins, O. A. 

Captain, Co. E, 36th N. C 

Wilder, Jesse 

Lieutenant, Co. C, 4th Cavalry 

Wilkins, W. L. 

Corporal, Co. F, 3d N. C 

Williams, George W. 

Private, Co. F, 3d N. C 

Williams, J. A. 

Private, Co. G, 3d N. C. Cavalry 

Williams, J. R. 

Sergeant, Co. H, S. C. V 

Wood, Dr. Thomas F. 

Assistant Surgeon, 3d N. C 

Woodcock, George W. 

Lieutenant, Co. E, 18th N. C 

Woodcock, Henry M. 

Private, Co. E, 18th N. C 

Woodward, W. J. 

Private, Co. H, 1st N. C 

Wooten, Edward 

Lieutenant, Co. B, 5th Cavalry 

Wright, Joshua G. 

Lieutenant, Co. E, 1st N. C 


Died June 23, 1903. 

Died Aug. 30, 1906. 

Resigned May 10, 1902. 

Died Aug. 31, 1908. 

. .Died Aug. 22, 1895. 
. .Died Feb. 10, 1896. 
Removed to Georgia. 
...Died Oct. 11, 1907. 


. .Died Dec. 30, 1900. 

Company E, 3d Cavalry 

Yates, C. W. 
Yopp, F. V. B. 

Lieutenant, Co. G, 51st N. C. 

Died Dec. 29, 1894. 

The War Between the States 



The work at Fort Caswell at the mouth of the Cape Fear 
Kiver was commenced by the government in the year 1826. 
Maj. George Blaney, of the United States Engineer Corps, was 
in charge of it for several years until his death at Smithville in 
1836 or 1837. He was born in Boston, Massachusetts, and was 
an accomplished officer. His remains were brought to Wilming- 
ton, and the Wilmington Volunteers, a uniformed company and 
the only one then existing in the town, formed at Market Street 
dock to receive them, and escorted them to the old burial ground 
adjoining St. James’s Church, where they were interred with 
military honors and where they still repose. 

Major Blaney’s assistant in building the fort was Mr. James 
Ancrum Berry, a native of Wilmington, a natural engineer, the 
bent of whose mind was strongly mathematical. He was thor- 
oughly competent for the position he held, and took great pride 
in the work — so much so, indeed, that he had a small house 
erected on the river front of the fort and resided there with his 
family for a year or two until the encroaching waters rendered 
his habitation untenable, when he returned to Smithville. He 
died suddenly in 1832. He was hunting with the late Mr. John 
Brown, and, while crossing a small stream on a log, lost his 
footing and his gun came in contact with the log and was dis- 
charged, the contents entering his brain, killing him almost 
instantly. He was an honorable gentleman, high-toned, chival- 
ric, and was greatly mourned. 

It is probable that Capt. A. J. Swift, son of the distinguished 
chief of the Engineer Corps, Gen. Joseph Swift, succeeded 
Major Blaney. It is known that he had charge of the works at 
the mouth of the river for quite a long time, and it is believed 
they were finished under his supervision. 

Captain Swift was regarded as one of the ablest engineer 
officers in the army and, though dying quite young, left behind 
him a reputation second to none in that branch of the service. 

It is a remarkable fact that, notwithstanding its exposed posi- 
tion to the Federal fleet, no general engagement occurred at Fort 
Caswell during the four years’ war. The fort was of great serv- 
ice, however, in defending the Main Bar and the garrison at 
Smithville, although the fighting was confined to an occasional 
artillery duel with the United States blockading fleet. 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

The defenses of Oak Island during the War between the 
States were composed of Forts Caswell and Campbell, the latter 
a large earth fort situated about one mile down the beach from 
Fort Caswell, and Battery Shaw, with some other small works, 
all at the close of the war under the command of Col. Charles H. 
Simonton. With Colonel Simonton were the following members 
of his staff: Capt. E. S. Martin, chief of ordnance and artillery; 
Capt. Booker Jones, commissary; Capt. H. C. Whiting, quarter- 
master, and Captain Booker, assistant adjutant general. 

Fort Fisher fell about nine o’clock Sunday night, January 15, 
1865, and by midnight orders had been received at Fort Caswell 
to send the garrisons of that fort and Fort Campbell down the 
beach and into the woods before daylight in order to conceal 
them from the F ederal fleet. The troops were immediately with- 
drawn from the forts, and under cover of darkness marched 
away. Orders were also received to spike the guns in those two 
forts and destroy the ammunition as far as possible. Accord- 
ingly, during Monday, the 16th of January, the chief of ord- 
nance and artillery, Capt. E. S. Martin, was employed with the 
ordnance force of the forts in carrying out this order, preparing 
to burn the barracks — large wooden structures built outside and 
around Fort Caswell — and to blow up the magazines. 

About one o’clock on the morning of Tuesday, January IT, 
the order came to evacuate and blow up the magazines. There- 
upon Col. C. H. Simonton, Lieut. Col. John D. Taylor, and 
Capt. Booker Jones, who had remained up to this time, de- 
parted, leaving Captain Martin to destroy the barracks and 
forts. The buildings without the fort and the citadel within 
were at once set on fire and were soon blazing from bottom to 
top. Trains had been laid during the day to each of the seven 
magazines at Fort Caswell and the five magazines at Fort Camp- 
bell, and under the lurid glare of the burning buildings the 
match was applied to the trains, and magazine after magazine 
exploded with terrific report. One of the magazines in Fort 
Caswell contained nearly one hundred thousand pounds of pow- 
der, and when it exploded the volume of sound seemed to rend 
the very heavens, while the earth trembled, the violence of the 
shock being felt in Wilmington, thirty miles distant, and even 
at Fayetteville, more than one hundred miles away. The sight 
was grand beyond description. Amidst this sublime and im- 
pressive scene the flag at Fort Caswell was for the last time 
hauled down. It was carried away by Captain Martin, who, 

The War Between the States 


with his men, silently departed, the last to leave the old fort, 
which for four long years of war had so effectually guarded the 
main entrance to the river. 


Col. William Lamb, who was in command of Fort Fisher, in 
his admirable report of its defense, says : 

“The indentation of the Atlantic Ocean in the Carolina coast 
known as Onslow Bay and the Cape Fear River, running south 
from Wilmington, form the peninsula known as Federal Point, 
which during the Civil War was called Confederate Point. 
Hot quite seven miles north of the end of this peninsula stood 
a high sandhill called the ‘Sugar Loaf.’ Here there was an 
intrenched camp for the army of Wilmington under Gen. Brax- 
ton Bragg, the department commander, that was hid from the 
sea by forest and sandhills. From this intrenched camp the 
river bank, with a neighboring ridge of sand-dunes, formed a 
covered way for troops to within a hundred yards of the left 
salient of Fort Fisher. Between the road and the ocean beach 
was an arm of Masonhoro Sound, and where it ended, three 
miles north of the fort, were occasional fresh-water swamps, 
generally wooded with scrub growth and in many cases quite 
impassable. Along the ocean shore was an occasional battery 
formed from a natural sandhill, behind which Whitworth guns 
were carried from the fort to cover belated blockade runners or 
to protect more unfortunate ones that had been chased ashore. 

“About half a mile north of the fort there was a rise in the 
plain, forming a hill some twenty feet above the tide on the 
river side, and on this was a redoubt commanding the approach 
to the fort by the river road. Thus nature, assisted by some 
slight engineering work, had given a defense to Confederate 
Point which would have enabled an efficient commander at the 
intrenched camp, cooperating with the garrison of Fort Fisher, 
to render the point untenable for a largely superior force at 
night, when the covering fire of the Federal Havy could not 
distinguish between friend and foe.” 

The plans of Fort Fisher were Colonel Lamb’s, and as the 
work progressed they were approved by Generals French, 
Raines, Longstreet, Beauregard, and Whiting. It was styled by 
Federal engineers the “Malakoff of the South.” It was built 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

solely with the view of resisting the fire of a fleet, and it stood 
uninjured, except as to armament, in two of the fiercest bom- 
bardments the world ever witnessed. The two faces to the works 
were 2,580 yards long. The land face was 682 yards long, and 
the sea face 1,898 yards long. 

The Land Face of Fort Fisher. j 

At the land face of Fort Fisher the peninsula was about half 
a mile wide. This face commenced about one hundred feet 
from the river with a half bastion, and extended with a heavy 
curtain to a full bastion on the ocean side, where it joined the 
sea face. The work was built to withstand the heaviest artillery 
fire. There was no moat with scarp and counterscarp, so essen- 
tial for defense against storming parties, the shifting sands ren- 
dering such a construction impossible with the material avail- 

The outer slope was twenty feet high and was sodded with 
marsh grass, which grew luxuriantly. The parapet was not less 
than twenty-five feet thick, with an inclination of only one foot. 
The revetment was five feet nine inches high from the floor of 
the gun chambers, and these were some twelve feet or more from 
the interior plane. The guns were all mounted in barbette on 
Columbiad carriages, there being no casemated gun in the fort. 
There were twenty heavy guns on the land face, each gun 
chamber containing one or two guns, and there were heavy 
traverses, exceeding in size any before known to engineers, to 
protect from an enfilading fire. They extended out some twelve 
feet or more in height above the parapet, running back thirty 
feet or more. The gun chambers were reached from the rear 
by steps. In each traverse was an alternate magazine or bomb- 
proof, the latter ventilated by an air chamber. The passage- 
ways penetrated traverses in the interior of the work, forming 
additional bombproofs for the reliefs of the guns. 

As a defense against infantry, there was a system of subter- 
ranean torpedoes extending across the peninsula, five to six hun- 
dred feet from the land face, and so disconnected that the explo- 
sion of one would not affect the others; inside the torpedoes, 
about fifty feet from the berm of the work, extending from river 
bank to seashore, was a heavy palisade of sharpened logs nine 
feet high, pierced for musketry, and so laid out as to have an 
enfilading fire on the center, where there was a redoubt guarding 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

solely with the view of resisting the fire of a fleet, and it stood 
uninjured, except as to armament, in two of the fiercest bom- 
bardments the world ever witnessed. The two faces to the works 
were 2,580 yards long. The land face was 682 yards long, and 
the sea face 1,898 yards long. 

The Land Face of Fort Fisher. 4 

At the land face of Fort Fisher the peninsula was about half 
a mile wide. This face commenced about one hundred feet 
from the river with a half bastion, and extended with a heavy 
curtain to a full bastion on the ocean side, where it joined the 
sea face. The work was built to withstand the heaviest artillery 
fire. There was no moat with scarp and counterscarp, so essen- 
tial for defense against storming parties, the shifting sands ren- 
dering such a construction impossible with the material avail- 

The outer slope was twenty feet high and was sodded with 
marsh grass, which grew luxuriantly. The parapet was not less 
than twenty-five feet thick, with an inclination of only one foot. 
The revetment was five feet nine inches high from the floor of 
the gun chambers, and these were some twelve feet or more from 
the interior plane. The guns were all mounted in barbette on 
Columbiad carriages, there being no casemated gun in the fort. 
There were twenty heavy guns on the land face, each gun 
chamber containing one or two guns, and there were heavy 
traverses, exceeding in size any before known to engineers, to 
protect from an enfilading fire. They extended out some twelve 
feet or more in height above the parapet, running back thirty 
feet or more. The gun chambers were reached from the rear 
by steps. In each traverse was an alternate magazine or bomb- 
proof, the latter ventilated by an air chamber. The passage- 
ways penetrated traverses in the interior of the work, forming 
additional bombproofs for the reliefs of the guns. 

As a defense against infantry, there was a system of subter- 
ranean torpedoes extending across the peninsula, five to six hun- 
dred feet from the land face, and so disconnected that the explo- 
sion of one would not affect the others; inside the torpedoes, 
about fifty feet from the berm of the work, extending from river 
bank to seashore, was a heavy palisade of sharpened logs nine 
feet high, pierced for musketry, and so laid out as to have an 
enfilading fire on the center, where there was a redoubt guarding 








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The War Between the States 


a sally-port, from which two Napoleons were run out as occasion 
required. At the river end of the palisade was a deep and 
muddy slough, across which was a bridge, the entrance of the 
river road into the fort; commanding this bridge was a Napo- 
leon gun. There were three mortars in the rear of the land face. 

The Sea Face of Fort Fisher. 

The sea face, for one hundred yards from the northwest 
bastion, was of the same massive character as the land face. A 
crescent battery intended for four guns joined this, but it was 
converted into a hospital bombproof. In the rear a heavy cur- 
tain was thrown up to protect the chamber from fragments of 
shells. From the bombproof a series of batteries extended for 
three-quarters of a mile along the sea, connected by an infantry 
curtain. These batteries had heavy traverses, but were not more 
than ten or twelve feet high to the top of the parapets, and were 
built for ricochet firing. On the line was a bombproof electric 
battery connected with a system of submarine torpedoes. Far- 
ther along, where the channel ran close to the beach, inside the 
bar, a mound battery sixty feet high was erected, with two heavy 
guns which had a plunging fire on the channel; this was con- 
nected with a battery north of it by a light curtain. Following 
the line of the works, it was over one mile from the mound to 
the northeast bastion at the angle of the sea and land faces, and 
upon this line twenty-four heavy guns were mounted. From the 
mound for nearly one mile to the end of Confederate Point, was 
a level sand plain scarcely three feet above high tide, and much 
of it was submerged during gales. At the point was Battery 
Buchanan, four guns, in the shape of an ellipse commanding 
New Inlet, its two 11-inch guns covering the approach by land. 
An advanced redoubt with a 24-pounder was added after the 
attack by the forces on the 25th of December, 1864. A wharf 
for large steamers was in close proximity to these works. Bat- 
tery Buchanan was a citadel to which an overpowered garrison 
might retreat and with proper transportation be safely carried 
off at night, and to which reinforcements could be sent under 
the cover of darkness. 

The Fort Fisher Fight. 

General Whiting, in his official report of the taking of Fort 
Fisher on the night of the 15th of January, 1865, after an as- 


Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

sault of unprecedented fury, both by sea and land, lasting from 
Friday morning until Sunday night, says: 

“On Thursday night the enemy’s fleet was reported off the 
fort. On Friday morning the fleet opened very heavily. On 
Friday and Saturday, during the furious bombardment of the 
fort, the enemy was allowed to land without molestation and to 
throw up a light line of field-works from Battery Ramseur to 
the river, thus securing his position from molestation and mak- 
ing the fate of Fort Fisher, under the circumstances, but a 
question of time. 

“On Sunday, the fire on the fort reached a pitch of fury to 
which no language can do justice. It was concentrated on the 
land face and front. In a short time nearly every gun was dis- 
mounted or disabled, and the garrison suffered severely by the 
fire. At three o’clock the enemy’s land force, which had been 
gradually and slowly advancing, formed in two columns for 
assault. The garrison, during the fierce bombardment, was not 
able to stand to the parapets, and many of the reinforcements 
were obliged to be kept a great distance from the fort. As the 
enemy slackened his fire to allow the assault to take place, the 
men hastily manned the ramparts and gallantly repulsed the 
right column of assault. A portion of the troops on the left had 
also repulsed the first rush to the left of the work. The greater 
portion of the garrison being, however, engaged on the right, and 
not being able to man the entire works, the enemy succeeded in 
making a lodgment on the left flank, planting two of his regi- 
mental flags in the traverses. From this point we could not dis- 
lodge him, our own traverses protecting him from the fire of our 
most distant guns. From this time it was a succession of fight- 
ing from traverse to traverse, and from line to line until nine 
o’clock at night, when we were overpowered and all resistance 

“The fall both of the general and the colonel commanding the 
fort — one about four and the other about four-thirty o’clock 
p. m. — had a perceptible effect upon the men, and no doubt 
hastened greatly the result; but we were overpowered, and no 
skill or gallantry could have saved the place after the enemy 
effected a lodgment, except attack in the rear. The enemy’s loss 
was very heavy, and so, also, was our own. Of the latter, as a 
prisoner, I have not been able to ascertain. 

“At nine o’clock, p. m., the gallant Major Reilly, who had 

The War Between the States 


fought the fort after the fall of his superiors, reported the 
enemy in possession of the sally-port. The brave Captain Van 
Benthuysen, of the marines, though himself badly wounded, 
with a squad of his men picked up the general and the colonel 
and endeavored to make his way to Battery Buchanan, followed 
by Reilly, with the remnant of the forces. On reaching there, it 
was found to be evacuated, by whose order and by what author- 
ity I know not. No boats were there. The garrison of Fort 
Fisher had been coolly abandoned to its fate. Thus fell Fort 
Fisher after three days 7 battle unparalleled in the annals of the 
war. Nothing was left but to await the approach of the enemy, 
who took us about 10 p. m. The fleet surpassed its tremendous 
efforts in the previous attack. The fort had fallen in precisely 
the manner indicated so often by myself, and to which your 
attention has been so frequently called, and in the presence of 
the ample force provided by you to meet the contingency. 77 

Colonel Lamb, in his report, says he had half a mile of land 
face to defend with 1,900 men. He knew every company pres- 
ent and its strength. This included the killed, wounded, and 

To capture Fort Fisher, the enemy lost, by their own state- 
ment, 1,445 killed, wounded, and missing. Nineteen hundred 
Confederates with 44 guns contended against 10,000 men on 
shore and 600 heavy guns afloat, killing and wounding almost 
as many of the enemy as there were soldiers in the fort, and not 
surrendering until the last shot was expended. 

The garrison consisted of two companies of the Tenth North 
Carolina under Major Reilly; the Thirty-sixth North Carolina, 
Col. William Lamb, ten companies; four companies of the For- 
tieth North Carolina; Company D, First North Carolina Artil- 
lery Battalion ; Company C, Third North Carolina Artillery 
Battalion; Company I), Thirteenth North Carolina Artillery 
Battalion, and the naval detachment under Captain Van Ben- 

General Whiting had been assigned to no duty by General 
Bragg, although it was his right to command the supporting 
troops. He determined to go to the fort and share its fate. The 
commander, Colonel Lamb, offered to relinquish the control, but 
General Whiting declined to take away the glory of the defense 
from him. He remained with him, however, and fought as a 
volunteer. It is related that during the fight, when one hundred 



Chronicles of the Cape Fear River 

immense projectiles per minute 1 were being hurled at the fort, 
General Whiting was seen “standing with folded arms, smiling 
upon a 400-pound shell, as it lay smoking and spinning like 
a billiard ball on the sand, not twenty feet away, until it burst, 
and he then moved quietly away.” During the fight General 
Whiting saw the Federal flag planted on the traverses. Call- 
ing on the troops to follow him, they fought hand to hand with 
clubbed muskets, and one traverse was taken. Just as he was 
climbing the other, and had his hand upon the Federal flag to 
tear it down, he fell, receiving two wounds. Colonel Lamb, a 
half-hour later, fell with a desperate wound through the hip. 
The troops fought on. Lamb, in the hospital, found voice 
enough, though faint unto death, to say: “I will not surren- 

der” ; and Whiting, lying among the surgeons near by, re- 
sponded: “Lamb, if you die, I will assume command, and I 
will never surrender.” 

After the fort was captured and General Whiting was made 
prisoner, he was taken to Fort Columbus, on Governor’s Island, 
and there died, March 10, 1865. The fearless defender of the 
last stand at Fort Fisher, Maj. James Reilly, in after years 
lived not far from the scene of his exploits until his death, 
November 5, 1894. 

iRear-Admiral Porter’s official report of the second attack on Fort 
Fisher contains the following statement: “We expended in the bom- 

bardment about 50,000 shells,” but in commenting on this the compil- 
ers of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Navies in the 
War of the Rebellion, Series 1, Vol. XI, p. 441, say “An examination of 
reports and logs shows that in the first attack on Fort Fisher by the 
Federal fleet there were expended 20,271 projectiles, weighing 1,275,299 
pounds. In the second attack there were expended 19,682 projectiles, 
weight, 1,652,638 pounds. It is estimated that the above statement